Tag Archives: rain

Advice

I took the GRE last week, which means I have a bulk of the necessary components to complete graduate school applications. The test went well enough, though I was very stressed leading up to it. Studying for only the month preceding the test wasn’t the best idea; I’ve learned you can still procrastinate while living in the bush.

October has been much wetter this year than last. Lately I’ve seen pretty frequent, albeit fleeting rain. There’s nothing I dislike about rain – no, make that water in general. I often find myself standing outside, like I did today, to soak up storms. They’re irresistible.

Yesterday began the district’s annual evidence-based planning meetings. Last year I was the lone volunteer in my district and endured the frustrations of this process on my own. Although there are other volunteers around this year, the data used to construct the local response to HIV/AIDS is still out-of-date or simply bad. Protestations don’t seem to permeate, and the committee pushes forward on the unstable foundation of imprecise information. Inquiries about improving the quality of statistics are met with dead-end finger pointing. This takes me to the root of why I decided to only engage people when asked. Laboring over something so wasteful saps both my energy and willpower.

Frankly, I can no longer consume myself with things I find so pointless. The amount of time I have left places me in a do or die situation. I want to finish certain things and that can only happen by sacrificing the bullshit. It’s very easy to empathize with people who find service unfulfilling (I’ve oscillated across the line). Part of me envisions some sort of grand, ceremonial end to my service, but the reality is that I’ll probably just take a quiet bow.

My favorite piece of advice to give about Peace Corps is this: be selfish. Most volunteers want to make an impact and leave a legacy of positive change, but disregard the fact that this work is about personal development as well. A lot of time is spent training on the proper way to approach development, but it doesn’t always work and we never talk about the backup plan. There comes a point when you have to do what you want to do in order to be happy. Sometimes it isn’t as drastic as constructing a building or planting an orchard. It can be learning how to play the guitar or writing a novel or getting into crazy good physical shape. It can also be about saying “I don’t want to do that.”

Cheers

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Next

Thoughts of what comes next have been dominating my mind lately. The danger in this is that I’m starting to detach from the present, though it is good preparation for my organizations and their respective projects. I have enough time left in my service that I can still accomplish things, but the pressure (and excitement) of the developed world is approaching.

I’ve finally taken a break from travel and can settle back in to village life. Constant disorganization has marred the past couple of months because I have spent so much of it in flux. Staying put will help me focus and give my bank account a break. Independence day is coming up Monday, and country will take a couple days off to celebrate. A large number of government workers are employed away from their families, so holidays in Botswana represent opportunities for them to head back to their home villages. Rakops will probably empty out today, but I’ll welcome the quiet.

It’s strange that I find comfort in solitude now. I suppose it means I’ve truly achieved some of my original goals, because the isolation of my site was once my biggest fear. I do have a good reason for appreciating the alone time: I’m studying for the GRE. Like many other things, I’ve procrastinated in my preparation so I’m left with about a month to buckle down. The whole graduate school application process has stirred up uncertainty about what I will do after May. Living in the African bush has revealed to me that I can live almost anywhere and do basically anything. Though I will say that the next place I live will allow me access to better food, and hopefully a shower. That’s still leaves me with too many options.

The rains came yesterday for the first time in about 7 months. Incidentally, it was a planting day at our garden. The same sort of thing happened last year when my group received our orange saplings. The weather gods smile on my village once in a while. With all the difficulties the garden project has faced in the past, I think it now has what it needs to find some success.

My projects are coming along, and I’m working more on the circumcision campaign over the next few weeks. Having done this project before provides a little more confidence for me, and I know I can do more with it than last time. I’ve also started to prepare my counterparts at my support group for my departure by teaching some of the more basic things I do, like typing letters and networking. After I leave, the organization will be without a Peace Corps Volunteer for almost 6 months, so they need to gain a little more self-sufficiency. I’ve written before about my predecessor and how I’m compared to her – in this way I’ve had to separate. I can no longer fill the commanding role, so I’ve started to delegate more and more. This kind of growth is difficult, but it’s more important than most other things. Hopefully it will translate in sustainability.

Cheers

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