Well, I probably should have written a post a while ago, but a lot has been happening and it took me a while to wrap my head around everything. I’ve been in Gabs for the past two weeks while I wait for training to start. If you read my last post, you know that I’ve been evicted and was in the process of getting a new home in my village. If you follow my Facebook, you know that I have since found out the house I was to move into has fallen through and now I am in Gaborone waiting to find a new village because they couldn’t find me any other housing in Ralekgetho. Now that the situation isn’t as fresh, I think it makes a funny story, but I’ll save that for when I get home.
So, anyway, I am not only houseless, but also villageless. A lot of people at this point have asked me why I’m staying. Many people have left and a lot of people here have said they would have left if they had to go through what I’ve been handling. It’s actually been kind of challenging staying in the hotel that the people who are ET-ing (Early Terminating) are also staying at. I spent two weeks listening to people tell me why they were going home and that they were surprised I would stay after dealing with the already challenging aspects of my village and then being evicted and having to relocate and people trying to decide if they want to stay or go home. This was especially hard because I was trying to actively listen and help them while they were talking themselves into leaving, staying, and then leaving again, without feeling like leaving myself.
The truth is, I have thought a lot about ET-ing, but in the perspective that it really isn’t something I want to do. It’s just one of those things that you have to consider when you’re in these situations here. When I first got evicted, I was upset and wondering if it was my sign that I wasn’t meant to be here, but that thought went away pretty quickly. There are of course reasons why I feel like I don’t need to be here. In a lot of ways, I feel like Peace Corps doesn’t really need to be in this country. I feel like we have been here long enough and that the country is developed enough that we aren’t really needed. In a lot of ways, I feel like Peace Corps is used in this country as a status symbol and a way for the country to get more funding. Most villages here request Peace Corps volunteers because they want to have an American (and are usually disappointed if they’re black) in their village. Of course this isn’t always the case and just because they don’t need us, doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff for us to do. However, I am also always questioning why I am here and whether I am perpetuating a stereotype that white people are smarter and therefore are the only people who can solve the problems in Africa. And why did I decide that I was qualified to come and help a country with a problem that I haven’t even studied? I don’t have a public health background. What kind of expertise do I have to really help the people of Botswana, that the people of Botswana don’t already have? Why can’t they help themselves? Even with all of these questions and internal struggles I have with myself, I’m not ready to go home.
I came here for more than this idealistic image that I was going to be some sort of savior. I came here to learn about another culture, help under privileged populations, learn about my culture through others eyes, process my own knowledge and opinions of my own culture, learn more about myself, make growth and positive changes for myself that I didn’t think were possible in the toxic environments in America, and broaden my horizons. I wanted to have knowledge and experience beyond my little American bubble so that I could understand more about what people in this world are going through and how they’re culture and views affect that.
In these nearly 6 months, I have learned so much about myself, America, and Botswana. I have grown in ways I wasn’t sure were possible. I’ve accomplished goals that I have been struggling with for years. And I’ve already touched people’s lives around me. I’m not ready to go home, because I’m not ready to stop this journey. I want to see how healthy I can get living in the desert without a car and eating a diet that is nearly all unprocessed foods. I want to see how many more mental health changes I can make to eliminate even more stress, anxiety, and insecurity. I want to challenge myself in ways that aren’t possible in America. I want to read fifteen books a month and not be falling behind on other stuff. I want to learn how to really live on my own, budget for myself, cook for one person without wasting food, and finally get some routine in my life. I want to use this opportunity for everything it’s worth.
My next village may have even fewer amenities than my last or it could have way more. Hey, maybe I’ll have running water and electricity. The village could speak more English than my last village did. It could have more infrastructure than my last village. Ooh, it might have some form of transportation besides hitch hiking in pickups that look like they may just break into a million pieces in the middle of the ride. Maybe my school will have more corporal punishment, or maybe it won’t exist. Maybe there will be more than one hundred students and seven teachers. It might even be a Junior or Senior secondary instead of a primary school. We really have no idea, but it also doesn’t matter. I didn’t come here to work with one specific population on one specific issue. I came here to work in Botswana wherever they needed me. Wherever I am, there will be challenges, but another word for challenge is OPPORTUNITY!! That’s all this is. It’s just an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and make an impact in a different place. So, no, I’m not thinking of going home. Even if I wanted to, I have no money, so I would just be couch surfing until I got a job. Why not stay in a safe, secure, and beautiful place for two years and have a little more money and experience when I come home instead?