Friday, October 26, 2012


First and foremost: I have updated my address here and on facebook so send away!! And, like always, thank you for thinking of me and taking your time to show me love. I love you guys. :)

Monday and Tuesday were spent in the capital city of Gabarone for a Supervisor's Workshop. The weather has been nice and cold lately with LOTS of thunderstorms and lightning accompanying the rain. It really makes me feel like I'm back at home in Cali at this time of year which is weird because summer just started here and it should be extremely hot right now all the way until March-April. I'm obviously not complaining. Meeting my Headmaster was a success. So far, I really like her and she seems to know what she is doing. That says a lot. We discussed what roles I'd have when I get to site and what is needed in the community. I already know that I'll be part of different clubs and be in charge of some programs. She says she will fight for me to get a computer in the Guidance and Counseling Office, where my office will be. Oh, and I also learned that I have no electricity in my house! Waahhhh. haha Gagona matata (No problem/worries -think Lion King). I have yet to meet my counterpart but apparently she is a very nice woman. I am extremely excited and will tell you more when that time comes.

Mma Mokgweetse, the Headmaster at Iputheng Junior Secondary School. (Don't mind my bangs. I just ran in from the rain.)

So crazy how much sun is out and the clouds are gray even though the rain is coming down hard. This  weather reminds me of Hawaii. Five minutes of random on-and-off rain and sunshine.
Last Saturday we celebrated two birthdays from Bots 10 and 11, the two groups who came before us. I was looking forward to this because I haven't met that many other volunteers from the other groups since we've been here and it was fun. What was REALLY exciting was the hamburgers and cake that was made!!! It may not be a big deal to all you readers out there but we go CRAZY when we eat American food. Or at least something that tastes similar enough to food from home. haha We all went to a volunteer's house here in Kanye where we are training. He has a ridiculously nice house that none of my group will probably have and it was a good night. Also, I learned that I am called a "colored" girl. If you're not black, white, or Chinese (ALL Asians), you're considered colored. What's funny is that most people think I am a mixed Asian and Motswana (person from Botswana). Weird. I haven't even gotten my dark summer tan yet! haha Anyway, below you can see some of my friends here.

Emma, Niakou, and Ash

These next photos are of our unnecessary serious photo shoot.

Couldn't hold back after looking at Niakou's face.

Luis and Octavius.

Happy Birthday, Liles!

My boy, Luis

Kristan, Racquel, Luis, and Lisetta

These are more random pictures of my week spent at home with my wonderful cousin,Tau. I will still call him my brother.

Tau was amazed at  my ridiculously simple breakfast I made - buttered toast, eggs with chicken franks, and apple slices. He looked at it like, "Wtf is that?" haha I try to get and make food closest to what I ate at home. I crave so many things already! :( 


Even though the days are long during training I am still alive and having fun. Please don't worry about me, family and friends. I hope you all are doing well and being with people you love minus myself. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Site Placement!!!

October 18, 2012 was the day all of us, trainees, were looking forward to since we stepped off the plane. For some of us, it was the day we’ve been waiting for since we got our invitation in the mail. On this day we celebrated all of the different locations we were assigned to and all of the places we will soon be calling “home.”

Site placement is really exciting for Peace Corps Trainees. For weeks, prior to the day we find out, we all talked about where we might be going, looked at maps and guessed the different villages we might be assigned to, and wondered how life would be in our new homes: Will we have running water and electricity? Will my community like me? Will I make a difference out there? You can imagine how anxious all of us were and how excited we were to finally find out where we’d live and what we’d be doing! Plus, I think we are all really over Pre-Service Training (PST) at this point so any break from our learning sessions are well received. There were balloons, drinks, cookies, and candy; the whole nine yards (for Peace Corps standards). You know it is a big deal when Peace Corps decides to provide all these with their limited budget. We all sat in a big semi-circle and were asked to look under our chairs for a number. This number indicated the sequence in which we were to go up and find out where our village is, announce to the class where we’d be living and working, and then find and pin your village on a big map of Botswana. It was all really fun and exciting as we cheered for each other not knowing where most of these places even were. So aren’t you all just dying to know where I am???

I am going to call the village of Hebron my home for the next 2 years starting November 16, 2012! I will be the very first volunteer to work and live in this small village. The site is new and that means I will set the bar and not have to fill anyone else’s shoes. Phew! I will be teaching at Iphutheng Junior Secondary School meaning I will be working with 13-16 year olds. Eeek! These are middle school kids, wish me luck! J I’m really nervous about working in a Junior Secondary School but I know it’ll be alright. (I hope they’re not bigger than me. haha L) The needs and challenges that are identified in the site development visit from our program director are: destitution (very serious), lack of school uniforms, personal hygiene (yes!), alcohol and drug abuse, the high cost of transport (great), and many orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Ironically, I am really happy that there are a lot of needs and challenges to address so that I can better focus my projects to gear them towards these issues. I am so eager to start my life here and start my community assessment. Most of all, I am excited to see how my place is going to look and feel like. I can finally say that I have my own place and that it is in Africa! Ahhh, how cool is that?! I tried to beat out information about my house from the program manager, Mpho, since we are buddy-buddy. haha He’s the one laughing at me in the picture where I’m announcing to the class where my assignment is because I jokingly said I’d be near the Okavango Delta. (A girl can dream) Well…I found out that I’d be in government housing! People who live in government housing are usually teachers, school officials, and employees from the clinics so hopefully this will mean my place will be pretty decent. I will be living on a Primary School compound or area but will be teaching at Iputheng Junior Secondary School. I didn’t expect much when I decided to join the Peace Corps but from what I hear, government housing is pretty legit and usually comes with running water and electricity so I am not complaining! In fact, I’d love to know what turning on the faucet feels like again and being able to use the internet on a regular basis! Honestly speaking though, if I didn’t have these things I would still be okay with it. I’d learn to adapt, live, and be grateful for every single thing. Mpho also said that he thinks he remembers my site having a bathroom (yay for western toilets!) and two rooms. TWO. What will I do with that?! I can’t wait to cook for myself and have an actual place to call mine. Even if I didn’t have a toilet and had to go out to the scary pit latrine at night I know I would love my very own place, nonetheless. I love my family and all but I’d like to be able to have a little more privacy and do things on my own, at my own time. I’m getting so excited just typing about it! So on Monday and Tuesday I will be going to the capital to meet my counterpart and the Head Master (Principal) of the school. I’m really excited and nervous and I pray that both my counterpart and Head Master are friendly, willing, and helpful. I will also be able to ask them about my home, my work site, the village, and my mailing address so stay tuned for the updates!

First encounter with a camel spider! Gross.

Cutest girl

Tate, my host during shadowing

These guys are all over!!! UGH!!!

Backyard view

Our living room


rainy day

Lightning and thunderstorm

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shadowing in Kang!

Last week was probably the best week I’ve had since I’ve been here, minus the fact that I got lost on my first bus ride. All of us had to shadow current Peace Corps Volunteers that live all over the country and that are here for different sectors like Life Skills, Education, NGOs, Community Capacity Building, and Health. All of the trainees were anticipating this since we got here so you can imagine how excited we were to finally find out who we were shadowing, what their jobs were, and where in the country we were going to! I ended up shadowing Tate in Kang and it was so much fun! Tate is a really sweet girl from Colorado and she is in Bots 12, the group that came before mine. Although she is not a Life Skills volunteer, I was still very excited to stay with her and see her village. Plus, she had taught one of our HIV/AIDS sections a while back and I knew she was really nice and I was excited to get to know her. When I found out I was going to Kang I was super excited because it is south of the Kalahari Desert where the game reserve is, in the Kgalagadi District. Although I did not get to see any crazy animals or anything like that (unless you count still cows and donkeys as crazy), I still loved the small village of Kang.

The bus ride there was actually a lot better than I thought it would be except I could have done without the bumpy roads since I had to get up at 4 a.m. and didn’t get much sleep. It took about 5 hours from Kanye and Tate was waiting for me at the bus stop. Let me tell you: The bus rank is crazy! If I was not told exactly where to go and what bus to take and what time to board, I would have probably ended up in Mozambique. Please pray for me when I get to my permanent site because my sense of direction is completely nonexistent and we are pretty much completely independent when we get to our sites. Yikes. Anyway, we walked around her whole village an she took me to see where all the important places like the Sefalana (a market type of place), the post (post office), and Pep (a mix between Wal-Mart and Old Navy, which I love because it’s cheap!). That took all of 10 minutes, literally. The village is really quaint and cute and I liked it a lot. My first meal here included chips (soft fries), cream cheese & tomato sandwiches, and a salad!!! You might be thinking, “Really? That’s it?” but you don’t understand how much I craved food that was not beef, sorghum, or maize mil. I couldn’t even believe they sold cheese here let alone cream cheese and feta and cheddar! I had some of the best meals during shadowing and that’s because it included cheese, zucchini, and everything else Americans eat all the time. YUM! The only thing that was a bummer was that Tate wasn’t able to find a big variety of produce because Botswana gets most of it from South Africa and right now there is a strike going on so the villagers don’t get to see any fruits. How sad is that?! Hopefully that ends soon. When I walked into her house I was seriously in awe! She had the nicest little house I have ever seen in Botswana since I’ve been here. It looked like a normal small house in the states, better than my house in Whittier! Haha So jealous! I know we are not getting anything at all close to this type of living and I’m okay with that but it was really nice to get to shower (a real stand-up shower with a huge shower head!) and shave my legs! She even had two bathrooms with a tub and a western toilet! I’m still dreaming of it but back to my bucket baths and pit latrine…

Real American food!!!

They have CHEESE here!!! (Trenton, you'll be fine when you come!)

Tate's SUPER nice house!!!

A shower, a sink, and a western toilet! I'm in love.

You start adapting to the heat and coming up with new ways to stay cool. These are frozen water bottles and cloths to put on your body while you sleep. IT IS HOT!

It rained a total of 3 times while I was in Kang and they kept saying how I brought the rain to them. I felt lucky. Haha They said that Kang hasn’t seen rain like that in over a year and it was soooooo nice. The weather was PERFECT and cool. Pula means different things in Setswana. It is a form of agreeing with something someone has said or just being grateful for something(kind of like, “Yes!” or “Amen!”), it is the currency of Botswana and it also means rain. So when it rains everyone says, “Pula!” because it is said that the rains bring the harvest and the harvest brings wealth, which totally makes sense. So when it rains everyone is happy and I was extremely happy to feel the breeze and the cool of the wind on my skin. That was nice even if it was short lived and I still have 5 more months of extreme, dry summer heat here.

 I got to meet all of Tate’s coworkers at the clinic and they all seemed to love her. (Who couldn’t?) It made me feel a lot better because she’s been here 5-6 months and it seems like she really integrated with her community well and everyone loves her. The clinic was really nice and it was very interesting to see what goes on and who does what. I also love that the clinics here are 24/7. That made me happy for the people here. When you’re a Peace Corps volunteer you have to have a primary project and other secondary projects. Tate is doing health and community capacity building so her primary work is at the clinic and around her neighborhood doing outreach. She has a whole bunch of secondary projects (I don’t know how she does it) and I was able to be a part of the SkillZ project, teaching young girls and boys about HIV/AIDS while playing soccer. That was really fun and successful. Everyone had a great time J Jan is another Peace Corps volunteer that lives in Kang and she is a Life Skills volunteer so I was glad to meet her. I went to Matsha College which is a senior secondary school (equivalent to high school) and was able to teach a Life Skills class with her. I was really nervous as to how the teens would take me since I look their age and am shorter than they are but it was great. They love saying my name randomly in class and even if the only thing I know how to do is say hello and introduce myself in Setswana, they think that’s a trip and they think I am a Motswana. I had a great experience shadowing in Kang and I am glad I was able to meet such a nice host. She is such a sweetheart. I learned a lot about the school system and Ministry of Education as well as the clinics and roles of everyone involved. I would definitely say shadowing was a success. Pula!

Cute kids from Kang

School I taught at for the week

Mixing soccer with HIV/AIDS awareness

The cute audience we acquired after a few minutes in the field

Why am I standing like that?

Tate teaching her kiddos

Life Skills class at a Senior Secondary School. Everybody was my size/height. I was intimidated. 

Regina, another PCT, and  the girls

A memorial in the center of the school for those who have passed away