The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Great Expectations

A lot of things have happened this week. I have developed a reputation in my clinic as a typist extraordinaire. I have been typing up a lot of these performance reviews for the nurses, drivers, nurse auxiliaries, etc. I won’t do this forever, though. At the beginning it is great because I show that I am useful and it gives me something to do. But, the point isn’t for me to do things. It is for me to teach others to do things. That is actually the crux of Peace Corps service. If I take the lead role in all of my projects, they die when I leave. But if I train interested others to do the work, I am building capacity. I will be empowering local counterparts to develop, retain and share their skills. Or that’s the hope anyway.

One thing I knew I wanted to do in Botswana is to work with teenagers. I loved counseling women on their reproductive choices in the states. I like feeling like people can confide in me; that I have some knowledge and support to offer them. Like most of my opportunities in Shoshong, my connection to one of the junior secondary schools came randomly. I met a teacher outside of the post office who later gave my phone number to the guidance counselor. I am going to meet the headmistress and student leaders later today. The age group is 13-15. It will be great to have them start thinking about HIV and other STIs, healthy relationships, gender violence, and correct and consistent condom use before many are sexually active. This is a project I am really excited about. It will take a while to get the sessions off the ground. I want to have other teachers, nurses and student leaders help me lesson plan and facilitate. I also want to have office hours in which students can just come and talk to me if they need to.

Big news: my furniture should be arriving on Tuesday or Wednesday. This is a big improvement from four days ago, when no one knew where it was. Yay for places to sit and cook! Yay for being able to welcome visitors! As with most things in Botswana, if you keep pressing for something to happen, it will. Victory #1 of my service.

I haven’t been watching American movies and TV as much as I thought I would. When I come home during the late afternoon, I try to study Setswana, read for pleasure or work on Peace Corps stuff. I am listening to a good deal of American music, which I don’t think I will ever give up. As I was listening a few days ago, some lyrics really resonated with me:

If you go looking for the darker side of anything,
You know you’re gonna find it.
You can hold on until it takes you under
Or you can let it go.

That short line reminded me to live in the NOW and focus on the POSITIVE. This applies to our work, our surroundings, and ourselves. As humans, we often think about what we are missing or what we need, instead of what we are gaining and the amazing gifts that we have. If we want to convince ourselves we don’t like something, our minds will become self-fulfilling prophecies. The opposite is also true. I can focus on missing friends, births, weddings, and martinis in New York City. It’s healthy to miss those things, but not so much that we don’t live in the present. So I have decided that I want to be motivated. I want to start conversations. I want to meet Batswana. I want to fall in love with this country and its people. There will be days when I am devastated that I am missing friends, births, weddings, and martinis. But not today.

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