One of the most important relationships I have here is with the Peace Corps Volunteer that came before me. She was the first Volunteer in Rakops and had a pretty great service. Although being compared with their predecessors is a common source of aggravation for Volunteers, I find that I can learn a great deal from the past and the people who lived it.
On my blog I’ve often pondered my existence in terms of survival. I think it’s somewhat justified – living here is hard. But after the adjustment period passes, the goal has to evolve beyond survival. I’m currently stuck in between phases. I am most certainly past the initial awe of living in the middle of nowhere on my own, and I’m generally un-phased when the power or water goes out for days, weeks, or months at a time. It’s still a frustrating part of life here, but it’s no longer novel to me. I know how to navigate those problems.
Now the obstacle is finding fulfilment and meaning. My existential crisis has taken priority and it’s a much more troubling problem to me than anything else I’ve faced here. I want to achieve my goals, but the roadblocks to change and development are wearing me down. In training, we are told that magical things happen at the one-year mark. You feel integrated, your projects finally get off the ground, and you’re given the power to turn water into wine.
Peace Corps has transformed me into a very patient person. If I was easy-going before getting here, I am now even more so. Waiting is a part of life in Botswana – one waits for literally everything, regardless of the situation and the length of the queue. How long can one wait for the system to cooperate with the changes you try to make within it?
This isn’t a new revelation for me; I’ve been asking myself what I’m doing here for months. Whenever I have such a crisis, I often turn to my friend and former Rakops PCV. Her role in our correspondence is generally to soothe my bruised ego and swollen self-doubt. She casts candor and wisdom over my current problems because they are the same ones she faced in the congruent time line of her service. She knows the pitfalls and frantic detours better than anyone, as well as how to calm my panic about them. I am thankful for her and the commitment she has made to sustainable change, and by extension, improving my service.
I will eventually overcome this hurdle and hopefully pay it forward in the same way it was done onto me. Just keep pushing, I guess.