Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Hey everyone!

I have a couple things I'd like to tell you about. Both include supporting a couple of my friends here in Botswana but are two different causes.

The first one is about my friend Janina, a current BOTS 12 volunteer who has written a grant in order to get funds for a project that will enable her to help her kids in her community of Gobajango. Please click here! Her grant is on the actual Peace Corps website and this is very exciting! Please just read about it and if you'd like, you can also donate right there on the site! I just want to get word out for her because for volunteers, getting a grant approved is so exciting and I could imagine how wonderful a feeling it is. I hope to look into different grants I could possibly obtain by putting my  proposal writing skills to use. I knew that class in college would help me out one day. (Thanks Jim Ruby!) Let's just hope the next proposal I write won't be a tedious 27 pages. 

The second thing I'd like to share is the artwork of my friend/neighbor, Caroline. She is such an amazing woman. She is my age and has an adorable family that includes her daughter and partner. She went to school for art and her artwork is simply amazing. I promised her that I would show a few of her pieces to my friends and family so I am posting them here!

She mainly does this as a hobby, as she is a teacher at the Primary School that is right across from my house. She is talented and she is also teaching her man how to paint. The one with the giraffes they did together! (I know. Cute, right?) The medium she uses the most is watercolor or oils on acrylic. They are really beautiful in person and if anyone likes any of them she is willing to negotiate a price and ship them to the states. She says she will give all my friends special pricing since you all are my friends I am just so awesome. Okay, I might have added that second part. haha I requested for her to do one of elephants since I love them and she is willing to do that so if anyone would like to request something specific, I could ask her. She also makes wooden jewelry from the trees around the village. I think she should put them on etsy but not having internet is a problem in Hebron. Boo. Maybe I'll post pictures of that. She does this as a hobby because she loves to do it and she told me that even if she doesn't sell anything it'd be amazing for her art to be "shown" in America. She is really sweet and if any of you like these and it is possible and realistic to buy one, I would love and appreciate your support for her. I'd love to help her and her cute little family.

So there you go. Check it out. Don't. Whatever. (But it'd be nice if you did!) 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Hitchhiking on a cold day!

You can immediately spot the lekgoa by the backpack and number of bags he/she carries.

So glad I can actually post a blog without it taking 30 minutes to load!

I am here at the Botswana Police College/International Law Enforcement Academy in Otse! It is a really nice facility. That or I just haven't gotten to experience first world perks in a while and it is amazing! I will never be ungrateful for it ever again. By first world perks I mean actual toilets, electricity, running water, etc. Also, when I found out we were staying here for In-Service Training and that my (OWN) room had air conditioning, I cried a little bit. Not gonna lie.

I've had some struggles here lately, physically and emotionally. Although I won't go into detail about it all because I'd like to stay positive, I will assure you I am okay. I've been down lately and also missing a lot of people and experiencing some devastating things in my village and it's been rough. But today I talked to different people here, at the college, from countries all over Africa and all over the world and it was really nice. Tonight, the weather felt great and I talked with friends and they really helped to reassure me that crying and feeling sorry for myself is just stupid because I could be using that time enjoying their company and enjoying the perks that Africa and life have to offer. As I sat with a friend tonight on a veranda I realized how beautiful life was: the sky, the birds flying overhead, the wind as it shook the leaves of the palm trees (palm trees! I know, right?!)...I noticed every detail. I spoke to a Motswana man and he was very excited to learn that the Peace Corps was staying at the academy. He told me about a married couple he remembered from the Peace Corps who taught at his Junior Secondary school. He told me about the subjects they taught, how it must have been well over 20 years now, and how much they impacted him and made him want to be where he is today...and then everything was okay. All of this past weeks' problems slowly faded away. I hope to make an impact like that married couple did for this gentleman. With everything that happened recently I still remember why I came to Botswana. There will never be a day I won't be able to handle because when I am going through these emotions I know it will soon past. There are always days that make me realize I am strong and I can do anything and those days somehow come right after I've had bad ones, luckily.

Although I will probably cry when I leave the college on Saturday (bye, bye electricity!), I know the best perks in life are not luxuries like air conditioning, internet, and nice accommodations; the best perks are the ones that make you feel alive. The ones that make you stay humble and appreciate the simplicity of a nice summer night or a good friend you can talk to. The ones that assure you that life is beautiful and everything really will be okay...even if you have to roll with the punches first.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ode to the Youth

I am continually amazed at how much responsibility and strength the children and teenagers have here. They are creative, strong, and have a lot more responsibilities than I have ever seen in the states, respectfully. Being in the Guidance & Counselling department here in Iphutheng Community Junior Secondary School has really opened up my eyes to the hardships that the youth has to go through at such a young age. The kids start walking to school around age 5 or 6, holding hands with their siblings that they take to school before walking 10 kilometers to school and 10 kilometers back home from neighboring villages. They get to school and come to the office and are starving from not having food at home or completely exhausted and having a difficult time staying awake and learning in their classes. They take care of family members: parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and siblings. They do the washing, cleaning, and cooking, all in the little time they have after coming home from school. I’ve seen kids playing with toys they have made from wires and soda cans, happily stringing these makeshift “cars” around. I think it’s actually pretty creative and awesome. They are forced to grow up and be mature, sometimes missing out on childhood and innocence that is their right. They take care of everyone but find it difficult to take care of themselves or even begin to learn how to do it. It breaks my heart to have students come in crying, asking for help and not knowing what to do or where to start.

I share this with everyone as a way to educate people on the value of responsibility and gratefulness. To be grateful, everyday, for what you have and not to focus on minor things that can engulf you. The youth here have the strength to carry on even with heavy shoulders weighing them down. I feel grateful for being able to experience these things and stay humble. To be able to listen to them and help them in any possible way that I can. Sometimes we invalidate and fail to recognize our youth and the things they grow up with and the hardships they, too, can face. We don’t really listen to them or hear what they have to say. I want to let them know that they can be confident, they can be leaders, and they can do great things, even with all the struggles that come with life. I hope that people can also teach this to their kids at a young age and instill the confidence and intelligence that is waiting to come out in these children. I guess I am just grateful for the experience and the opportunity to be a role model and a mentor for the youth here and will continue to stress the importance to my kids someday. It starts with them.

So to the youth: be strong and hang in there when times are tough. Believe in yourself. I know I do.

Friday, January 4, 2013

You Know You're A Peace Corps Volunteer In Africa When...

  • ·         Walking around holding a roll of toilet paper seems like a completely normal thing to do.
  • ·         Sitting under a tree watching goats graze counts as a productive day.
  • ·         You stare when you see a white person you DON”T know
  • ·         The length of time it takes you to walk anywhere is wholly dependent on how many people happen to be in their yards along the way.[ They WILL stop what they’re doing to talk to you and have a conversation.]
  • ·         You think hemlines are shocking but toplessness is not.
  • ·         Two weeks, three countries, and three changes of clothes in a small backpack seems about right.
  • ·         There is a rooster you would like to kill. If only he wasn’t dangerously close to your size [and he wasn’t your daily alarm clock.]
  • ·         You are stuck in an overcrowded bus for hours in 120 degree heat and no one is willing to open the windows for fear of catching the flu.
  • ·         When walking down the street, small children shout, “white person” and point at you but if you walk towards them, they run away screaming in terror.
  • ·         When buying clothes you think, “How hard will these be to wash in a bucket?”
  • ·         Showering everyday seems like a decadent vacation.
  • ·         You live in an almost constant state of existential anxiety about whether or not you are [riding/walking] on the wrong side of the road no matter which side you happen to be on.
  • ·         You’re cognizant of being the worst dressed person in your village. You don’t care.
  • ·         If you had to choose whether you would rather lose your passport or your adaptor, you would choose the passport.
  • ·         30 km is considered a pretty short distance.
  • ·         You don’t think twice about going potty in a plastic bag at night as a way of avoiding leaving your hut/home.
  • ·         You have so many random bags when you travel that you look like a gypsy.
  • ·         You will drink/enjoy anything that is cold.
  • ·         If you’re taking public transport and your lap is empty, there is always room for more people.
  • ·         You immediately lose your ability to estimate distances and waving your hand toward a certain place is considered giving directions.
  • ·         Basically, you have no shame. You can never act more crazy than your African counterparts already think you are.
  • ·         Spiders are no longer the enemy but your trusted ally in the constant battle of bugs.
  • ·         You lost track of how many marriage proposals you’ve received.
  • ·         You distinguish between your Peace Corps family and your American family.
  • ·         Those eggs have been sitting out in the sun all day. “Sure, I’ll take two.”
  • ·         You realize that every village must have its tokin’ crazy person.
  • ·         You stare at foreign tourists as much as the locals.
  • ·         When you actually realize you miss having a salad.

These are actually taken from 2 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who were assigned to Africa, one of them who was also in Botswana. This gives you some insight to what I have personally experienced and continue to experience. My fellow Peace Corps volunteers will probably understand and appreciate it more than friends back home but I decided to share it with all of you because it is funny and very true. I hope you all enjoyed it. If you have any questions, please ask. If your question is, “Seriously?” the answer is “yes.” Don’t judge.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year everybody!

I’m not a resolution type of girl but I do make goals for myself. 2012 was a great year for me and I hope I can say the same for 2013. It’s funny to think that 4 holidays have passed since I’ve been in Botswana yet it doesn't feel like anything here. It just seems like another day and for some reason, it’s kind of nice in its own way. I spent New Year’s Day with my friends, Liz and Eden. It was finally my turn to host a weekend sleepover and it was really cool to host people at my tiny place. I showed them the life of a volunteer (out of school) in Hebron. We walked to and from my school both days to get food to cook, we watched movies and TV shows, we cooked popcorn and had hot cocoa, danced and sweated our asses off, did different yoga poses, planned our travels for the next 2 years, shared ideas of what we’d like to accomplish in our communities, and even talked all through the night, just like our adolescent years. I almost forgot to mention that we were awakened on New Year’s Day by the sound of knocking on my door and someone yelling, “coco” (knock, knock). It was my neighbor who came to gift me a big chicken that he expected me to kill, pluck, and eat right then and there because that is the tradition in Botswana. No. I was not ready for all that at 6:00 a.m. I didn’t want to offend him because I know that when Batswana offer you something, you take it, but I did not want to kill that nice chicken that visited my yard daily. I convinced him that I’d have no way to cook it in my house, which is true, and that it’d be better if they took it and we prepared and ate it together, with his family. He agreed. Whew! I’m glad I got to experience the start of the New Year with new friends and new traditions.

cheesy, sorority girl pose

being weird

Ringing in the New Year


getting kinky

Here are some goals for 2013 that I’ve come up with thus far:

  • ·         See Africa! Take vacation days to travel around Botswana and neighboring countries like South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, and Mozambique.
  • ·         Save money for all those trips.
  • ·         Learn more Setswana and get a higher score on my language proficiency test. Preferably move up from Intermediate High to Advanced Low/Medium. (Wishful thinking.)
  • ·         Really get to know my village and the people and identify the needs of my community.
  • ·         Plan a camp for students at my school and schools in surrounding areas with sessions on leadership, substance abuse, bullying, respect, etc. Also introduce them to American summer camp games and arts and crafts.
  • ·         Make a better effort to tell the people I love how much they mean to me and that I love them.
  • ·         Be fearless of crazy African creatures that visit in the night. (Thank you, mosquito net!)
  • ·         Befriend the teachers at my school and collaborate with them on different projects.
  • ·         Teach guidance & counseling and substance abuse prevention and awareness to students/teachers at school.
  • ·         Be open-minded in a country where it may be difficult at times.
  • ·         Become better with direction.
  • ·         Eat healthier and do small exercises that I’m able to do in my small house.
  • ·         Don’t be so hard on myself.

 Most of these aren't big goals but goals that are realistic, nonetheless. The last one is one I am constantly working on and am getting better with time. I hope all of you are having a great start of the year and making realistic goals you can be proud of! I know I am.