Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cultural day, baboons, and training!

Well it’s been over 2 weeks now! The second week of training flew by as I have a feeling will the rest of training. Everyone in the group seems to be opening up and getting more comfortable so it has been nice to feel more connected with everyone. This week we got to do some fun cultural stuff which was great! On Monday night we went to the Kgotla, which is basically the main gathering place for the people of the village, for cultural night which included a choir and a really awesome traditional dance group. The dances involved a lot of stomping and the use of noise makers which the dancers had tied around their ankles. I unfortunately didn’t have my camera with me because we didn’t find out we were going to the event until a few minutes before we left, so I don’t have any pictures, but it was really awesome to watch! They also had some people there from other African countries such as Angola who spoke a bit about their culture. Well, needless to say, the large group of Americans stuck out of the crowd and it wasn’t long before the Emcee of the evening called us out and told us we had to come to the stage and perform for everyone! He wouldn’t take no for an answer, so about half of us got up and after a 5 second huddle decided that we would sing and dance the Macarena in front of 100
Batswana after they had just done incredible dances for us! It was pretty hilarious and everyone laughed (with us or at us?) a lot. I think they appreciated the effort at least!
On Wednesday we went to Gabarone to do some immigration stuff and set up our bank accounts which of course took way longer than expected. But we saw a huge family of Baboons on our way which was awesome! Haven't seen any other wildlife except cows and donkeys, so that was really exciting. This worked in our favor though because we got to eat lunch at the mall in the city which meant American food! I had a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich and it was amazing! I have been craving cheese because it is not at all part of the daily diet here, but I am realizing that it was DEFINITELY a part of my daily diet back home! 
On Thursday we had an interesting session about stigma and HIV and got to talk to a panel of people living with HIV. They told us their stories and how they are coping and what it was like to tell their friends and family their status. It was really interesting to hear what they had to say and I was impressed at how well they were coping, especially the youngest woman of the three who was only 28 and just found out her status a year ago. I can’t imagine being in her position. Stigma is a huge issue here though and it was one of the major contributing factors to the spread of the virus because people are afraid to test or reveal their status to their partners. Hopefully our group can be a drop in the bucket towards breaking down the stigma and contributing to the prevention of the virus. As training goes on I’m getting very excited to start working and start my service. Since the Peace Corps program here is so targeted I think it will really be able to make a difference in the long run in preventing new infections. The people we have interacted with so far have all been very welcoming and stressed the importance of our role in making a difference in Botswana. It’s hard sometimes to feel like anything we do will make an impact, but since the program is focused on capacity building and sustainability I think all of us really do have the potential to make an impact! at least I hope so...we'll see if the optimisim remains..


  1. haha that's so funny about the macarena! And I'm glad you were able to eat a grilled cheese!! Make sure you are getting enough calcium!! :) I'm sure you will make a difference for many people. Miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! p.s. you were in my dream last night and we got in a fight lol

  2. Awesome stuff! Few people get a chance to come face-to-face with the crises that plague the world and are a gnawing background pain accompanied by wishful thinking. This fact of confronting the issue and being willing to take it on itself makes a difference.

  3. Haha
    So now the people of Botswana think the macarena's a dance all Americans do. That's so funny!!
    We talked about you with my parents yesterday and they think you are so brave! We all do and yes; you will make a difference!
    Miss you