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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What We Don't Realize We Know

Sorry for the delay in blog posts.  I have gone on a couple trips within Botswana and will post those pictures shortly.  But now I am in Shoshong for the last 7 months of my Peace Corps service.  I will cease being a Peace Corps volunteer after May 28th.  Pretty exciting!  I am still looking to stay in Botswana but it won't be as a PCV.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but mostly it just isn't the right path for me.  So I am trying to find a job or paid volunteer position that will satisfy my immigration requirements to stay in the country.  It is a challenge but I am looking into many options and hope that I will have a favorable update on this soon!

I have seven weeks left.  Feels like a short amount of time, but it is also a bit awkward.  I can't quite start packing up my house and giving things away because I am still using them.  This is made more complicated by the fact that I don't yet know where I will be going after the seven weeks.  There is no time to start new projects and old projects are wrapping up.  So I am spending most of my time with people I love...hanging out, playing cards, chatting, and going on hikes around Shoshong.  I want to spend the time I have left being happy and engaged with the people around me.

Earlier this week I went into Mahalapye and passed out some cards to district offices that have supported the Peace Corps volunteers in our region.  It is important to say goodbye to the local leadership.  I will be doing that process continually over the next weeks.

Although things are slowing down, there are always new things to do.  World Spine Care opened a clinic in Shoshong last year.  A PhD student named Maria just arrived in Shoshong to do a research study in conjunction with the clinic.  She aims to ascertain the impact of muscular skeletal conditions on people in Shoshong.  How does it affect their ability to do everyday things?  If they are taking care of someone with muscular skeletal issues, what are their challenges?  I sat down with Maria today.  We discussed many things pertaining to her study--everything from who's who in Shoshong to simplifying interview questions.  It was a great discussion.

Before we spoke, Maria sat in on the morning meeting at the clinic.  Before every meeting, the clinic workers sing and pray.  That's just the way it is.  Maria found it beautiful and asked to know what they had been singing.  It made me smile and made me realize something: none of these things are new to me, nor particularly interesting.  Things people do are not cultural or quaint to me.  It's just people being people.  It's life here.  Sometimes I love it and sometimes I find it irksome, the same way I would feel dealing with people anywhere.  But Maria was soaking everything up, clearly engaged and interested in understanding all that she could.

Maria said that she wanted to see a funeral and a wedding.  I invited her to a funeral taking place this Saturday.  Luckily, she asked me what to wear.  I had completely forgotten to tell her the important things, that you have to wear a skirt or dress and cover your head with a hat or scarf.  I forgot to tell her because it didn't occur to me that she didn't know.  The knowledge is innate to me now.

It is impossible to imagine a world in which I didn't know the things that I know.  And it is hard to sometimes remember that other people don't have the same knowledge.  But it was nice to realize how integrated I have become in Shoshong; how much I am just used to the way life is here.  That doesn't mean that I never get impatient or annoyed, but it means that I know the customs.  I know what is right and wrong here and I feel comfortable in this place.  It's a bit remarkable, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. wonderful reflection honey - really feel how you feel - nice writing, but even more revealing of how you have become transformed to both being a part of the culture, yet remaining yourself as well - lovely, peaceful, as though you have come to some kind of balance and peace around your service there as PCV, your experiences, both inspiring and distressing, and current uncertainty - love you honey - dad