Work & Religion

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.

 

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9 thoughts on “Work & Religion

  1. Aunt Sherry says:

    Good Morning!
    Well reading about your adventures and challenges is fast becoming one of my favorite reads. I am grateful that you are being so good about sharing your experience with us.

    We are getting ready for Jeff’s graduation! He picked the restaurant (Maggiano’s) and he picked up his cap and gown yesterday.

    Well honey have a great day –
    Sending loving thoughts your way
    Aunt Sherry

  2. Becky Blundy says:

    Jeremiah, I’m so glad things are going well for you so far! I love reading your updates. They make you feel closer.

    How’s the food? 🙂

    Wishing you continuing love and safety!

    • jeremiahardy says:

      The food is very bland lol. I have chicken every day, along with some sort of starch and some kind of vegetable stew. I hope you’re holding the Crunch down for me! ❤

  3. Ashley Hardy says:

    I’m glad I get to read these and get updates whenever possible. Remember though, I will try to be on skype this weekend, but if you can’t come on, I understand of course. I hope to talk to you soon!

  4. Claire says:

    “I spent more time in church on Saturday than I have in the past 8 years combined”

    haha love it!

    Looking forward to hearing more about what you’ll actually be doing and to hear a first hand description of how AIDs really affects a community.

    Also, what the heck do you eat over there?

    Kisses!

    • jeremiahardy says:

      The diet here is very starch-central, but my family cooks chicken every night. Search Wikipedia for something called ‘pap,’ which is a pretty common staple throughout Southern Africa. Hope you’re doing well! Kisses

  5. Anna Bromley says:

    Hi Jeremy,
    Had to laugh at your post…seeing that I am of the same persuasion as you are, 8 hours would have gotten the better of me. You’re a much better person than I!

    Stay safe.

  6. Sandy Enness says:

    As you become more acculturated, try to take time to observe and learn how religion and faith-based beliefs intersect with health among the populations you are with.

    Look at this influence from your perspective and your hosts’ perspective. It will make you a better public health advocate where ever you go.

    Sandy

  7. The fact that you were in church for that long is NUTS..I’d be out of my mind and I was raised Catholic! Haha..what a crazy culture shock. I’m so glad PC’s mistake is going to be better for you and what you’ll be doing in your program. Seems like things are all falling into place in that regard.

    Glad you had some chicken before you left so THAT experience wasn’t as shocking when you got there! I’m not asking about ‘getting wasted’, but are there alcohol laws there or differences in culture in that regard? ..in terms of bars or if people drink alcohol or not due to religion or anything? Just curious.

    How’s the language learning coming? Can’t wait to hear you speak Setswana! When can we chat for a few? I’d love to plan a time within the next couple weeks before you get swallowed into being a busy little bee.

    Miss your lips, face, tummy and scent 🙂 Xx

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