I am about 2 weeks into my Peace Corps journey. I can’t say it’s what I expected, although I do my best to eliminate expectations whenever possible. Our training feels a lot like school to me – sessions are often styled like lectures rather than hands-on learning. It’s necessary to standardize the information, I suppose, but it is a little draining. It’s like I’ve been thrown into grade school again; class 8 hours a day with the same 40 people. It’s kind of fun right now, but I think this style of learning will start to take its toll on the group sooner rather than later.
The home stay is going well. More people have been staying at the house lately, so I have interactions with people who speak both Setswana and English. I now have a 25-year-old brother. He and I have been able to talk a bit and discuss the differences in our cultures and world events. The experience has been good so far, but I’m already irking for my independence. I didn’t realize how much I like being on my own schedule. My family and I get along well, but I’m looking forward to the points in our training when we travel to see other parts of the country and shadow current volunteers.
Last weekend I attended church with my host dad. He’s very religious, so I think it was important to him that I went, even though I fall under the atheist category when it comes to religion. It was apparently a special day, and a fellow trainee and I ended up at church for 8 hours! I spent more time in church on Saturday than I have in the past 8 years combined. For the record, I will not be doing that again (incidentally, every Saturday of my training from here on out is full). Regardless, we still read from the Bible and pray every night after dinner. It’s a bit much for someone like me who has voluntarily distanced himself from religion, but it’s only for a couple of months. Truthfully, the community aspect of it has paid off already. Almost any time I’m out, someone in the village recognizes me from church and yells “One!” at me (although I have been mistaken for my friend Daniel who is also white and has dark hair). Religion has an interesting place in Botswana culture, and I presume it will continue to test my flexibility and tolerance.
I also wanted to take a minute to discuss a change in the way my service will be shaped. On the first day we arrived in country, our acting country director told us that about 10 people in our group had been invited to Peace Corps under the wrong job description. Instead of being a community capacity builder for HIV/AIDS (CCB), I was supposed to be a non-governmental organization (NGO) capacity builder for HIV/AIDS. Although all PC terms are sort of vague in their definitions, this job title switch immediately put me at ease. Essentially, CCB volunteers are stationed in clinics or social work offices, while NGO volunteers are stationed with a specific NGO. The switch matches my experience and future goals much better than my initial invitation, so I was pretty excited about the news. I know it still isn’t very clear at this point, but I’ll be sure to go into more detail about my job as I learn it.
That’s about all I have for now. I’m loving the comments! Feel free to ask me questions here, or email me. Cheers.