In case anyone thought otherwise, I would like to take this time to set the record straight on a few things:
1. There is nothing sexy, quaint or rustic about washing clothes by hand. ESPECIALLY socks. I washed 13 pairs today, using 26 pegs to hang them on the line. And I am not…done…yet. Regardless of what happens and how much laundry I can do in a day, all of my socks are NEVER clean. And even the ones that are “clean” always have a faint dirt stain on them. Needless to say, black socks are the way to go.
2. The authors of any and all books about life on the farm were wrong. For your information, roosters do not just crow at dawn. They crow WHENEVER they want. Usually you’ll hear one next to you crow in response to a far away crow. They will continue to communicate like this ALL DAY. On behalf of book buyers everywhere, I would like my money back please.
3. I love that people are interested in my service in Botswana. I try to share my experiences as accurately as I can. That being said, asking me “how is Africa” or “how is Botswana” is kind of a bummer. “How is Botswana” is better because it at least recognizes that Africa is not one entity. Africa is HUGE and the countries are as varied as one can imagine. I could not speak on anything but the small parts of Africa I have visited. “Well, Amelia,” you may ask, “I want to know what/how your life is like but I don’t know what to say.” Good point. Here are just a few alternative questions:*
- What is a typical day in Shoshong like?
- Have you spent much time in other parts of Botswana? Other parts of Africa?
- What is the most fulfilling thing you have done?
- What is your biggest challenge so far?
- How are weddings/funerals/social events different than they are in the states?
- Based on this experience, do you have any idea what you would like to do in the future?
- Have you made any good friends there? What are they like?
- What do people eat in Botswana?
- Is it difficult to learn/speak Setswana? Do you like it? Is that the only language they speak in Botswana?
- Are you happy?
- What is the education system like? Is it similar to that in the states? …etc….
*These also work in place of similarly broad questions like “how is study abroad/college/any life-changing experience”
4. The United States may be cold in the winter and hot in the summer. But there is one important difference between those temperatures and the ones in Shoshong: we have indoor heat and air conditioning in America. The temperature outside is roughly the temperature in my house in Botswana. Usually that means it is either too hot or too cold. So don’t be surprised if I simply look at you and smile when you complain about walking from your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned office. I have nothing against air conditioning of course. But for the record, I prefer to sleep with frozen water bottles. My attempts to sleep in the summer months greatly improved after this realization.
5. It is quite remarkable which aspects of American culture cross the globe. Batswana youth love Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Lil’ Wayne, among other popular music artists. What I didn’t expect what hearing a whole lot of Dolly Parton and Celine Dion. You go girls!
6. Batswana dress VERY well when going to work. If I lived in Gaborone (the capital), I would easily be the worst dressed person. The women can walk through sand in stilettos to get to work. I am always impressed.
7. People do not eat dog here. Yet, in the north, they do eat lion. It is a delicacy and sells out immediately after it is available, I am told. And they eat elephant sometimes…although poaching is illegal (yay!).
I am sure other observations will come in time…