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.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In-Service Training

I apologize for the lack of updates these last three weeks. I have been in Gaborone (Botswana’s capital) at In-Service Training. This is the two-month mark for all of us. The Bots 10 volunteers came together for the first time since we left Kanye for our sites in June. It was really nice to see everybody. Unfortunately no pictures were taken of all of us together. I will try to find some and put them up here so you all get an idea of my fellow volunteers.

As is expected, IST had some useful sessions and some pointless ones. A few exciting things did happen, though. I picked up some good materials on life skills and peer education at the Peace Corps library. We finally have a new country director. His name is Tim Hartman and he seems great. He is serious about building a team between staff and volunteers. We are all looking forward to the positive direction he is going to take Peace Corps Botswana. I was also elected to a leadership position within Peace Corps. Each year, one member of each program (Community Capacity Builder/Life Skills/District Community Liaison/Non-Governmental Organization Capacity Builder) is elected to the Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC). I was elected as the Bots 10 CCB representative! I am really happy to help solve CCB-related issues and to give input on policy-making at the highest level. It is definitely an honor.

Some of us also attended a STEPS training, which stands for Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects. Its mission is to help end HIV/AIDS in southern Africa through film. Southern African filmmakers have made almost 50 films, mostly documentaries about different topics having to do with HIV/AIDS. The idea is to get audiences to reflect on the film, contextualize it within their own lives, and come away from the screening with some sort of motivation to act. It is a great program. I attended the training with a counterpart of mine from Shoshong. His name is Keoagile. Keoagile has spent the last few years working to educate people about HIV/AIDS, especially encouraging males to support their girlfriends/wives in going through PMTCT. I am looking forward to doing screenings in Shoshong because I think we will make a great team. Having a gender balance is always great as well.

Now I am back in Shoshong and I am so happy to be home. It is great having sit-down dinners with friends, going dancing, taking showers, and eating food prepared by other people. But it also gets tiring. And I have a lot of projects I am working on here. I am also still trying to get to know people and integrate more into the community. Remembering names and faces gets difficult, especially with these constantly changing hairstyles. Batswana women change their hairstyles every month, and some even more frequently. They use extra hair pieces, wigs and different braided styles. Some have dread locks, some have fake dreads. And oftentimes I will associate a face with a place, such as: Sadi works at x shop. But when I see Sadi outside of the shop, I may not recognize her because it is taken out of context. It is definitely challenging.

A while ago, someone told me that I should blog about how I wash my clothes, bathe, etc. I don’t know if I went over this before, but why not? I wash my clothes by hand in the bathtub. I try to do it every Sunday, but sometimes I get lazy and it’s every other Sunday. Most people allow the clothes to soak in the soapy water for a half hour, but I don’t have that kind of time. So I let them soak for 5 or 10 minutes, scrub them by hand, wring them out and put them to the side. Then I fill the tub up with clean water and rinse them. I hang them out on the line inside out so that the sun does not fade them. Undergarments must be done separately, though. Apparently it’s improper to wash those with the rest of the clothes, even if your own house. So I follow the custom on that one.

I have truly learned how little water you need to bathe, especially when we don’t have any running water in Shoshong (like now). Normally, I will heat up a couple liters of hot water in the electric kettle, pour them into the bathtub and then put as much cold water as I need to balance it out. When there is no water, I crouch in the tub and pour water over myself to bath. Then I use the bath water as toilet water. I don’t waste any water here when we are out of running water. If I wash dishes, I put that water in the back of the toilet as well.

That’s all for now. Please let me know if you have any other questions about my lifestyle that I have not answered. I love sharing this experience with everyone so thank you for following along! It is always nice to hear that people are reading it.

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