Although we were matched with our homestay families on Thursday, I feel like I have lived here for months. I couldn’t imagine being in a better situation. My Motswana mother (Mama) is 30 years old. She speaks English and lives with her parents, her two small children, ages 4 and 1, as well as her nephew, age 3. The grandmother and grandfather do not speak English, which I like. That way I can just hear Setswana between them and try to piece it together.
Being with the kids is amazing. The little girl is the most hardworking four-year-old I have ever seen. She helps me do the dishes, sweeps with her mom, serves the family food…you name it, she chips in. The kids are so much fun. Of course it means that all of my Setswana flash cards have scribbles on them, but I love it.
I am not only learning to be a real Motswana woman in terms of household duties. Mama is teaching me Setswana. I also have a Setswana name – Nnete. It means truth. Mama throws at least 30 words at me per day. I have piles and piles of flash cards. She knows I can’t learn them all right away and that’s okay, but my pronunciation is better and my vocabulary has increased tenfold, even in these last two days.
She also takes me around the town with her, which is great. We have taken a walk everyday. Mama makes me greet everyone I see, which is great for my Setswana and getting over the discomfort of approaching people I don’t know. It was intimidating because of my lack of Setswana skills, but everyone is so friendly. I have been proposed to multiple times. I am learning new ways of how to say no to that, but it is tricky, especially when the man in question lives in the area and you don’t want to offend anyone.
All in all, life in Botswana is great so far. I know this homestay situation is making the transition a lot easier, especially since we have running water and a toilet in the house. I have been taking bucket baths, though, so that is a change. I think the gradual change in living style has been helpful rather than shocking me with no running water or electricity right away.
One other point – notice the change in my address on the right hand side. It is no longer “PO Box,” but rather, “Private Bag.” Apparently there is a distinction so I don’t want any letters to be lost in the mail, if possible! By the way, when it is 80 degrees in the sun, the grandmother says it is cold. Love you all. I hope life is going well for all of you.