Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Botswana Farewell Part II, Reflections

We write this after one month and many, many miles in distance from the Peace Corps and Botswana.  Part of the time was a planned vacation with our daughter Annie and her husband, Nick. We then walked fifteen days --- 250+ km --- from the medieval city of Astorga to Santiago de Compostela - on the ancient path of St. James, Camino de Santiago.  Those two weeks in the open air were a time to reflect on our experience in Botswana.  As with all matters human, there is a mix of memories and feelings about our experience.   We thought about what we or the Peace Corps could have done better, or differently. And after much reflection, we both believe that our decision to conclude our service was right for us. What follows are some honest reflections on what we will and will not miss, a farewell and reminder of the beauty of the country.

I will miss the volunteers of Bots11.  Individually and as a group, they are among the most awesome people I have ever met.  
I will miss the students of Goodhope Sr. Secondary, especially their eagerness, curiosity, and friendship.   
I will miss the wonderful Guidance and Counseling teachers at GHSSS, people I will always count as friends and respected colleagues. 
I will miss my good friends from the Tsheida Institute, and wish them well every step of the way.
I will miss the friendliness and smiles from friends and strangers alike.  I always felt welcome in Botswana.
I will miss the spectacularly beautiful skies, intense blue, big white clouds, fiery sunsets, dramatic thunder and lightening storms, infinity of stars at night.
I will miss our garden.
I will miss cows, donkeys and goats wandering wherever they want to go.

I will not miss living with no garbage pick-up, no water for days on end and no progress toward solutions. 
I will not miss thinking about 2000 students living in close quarters without water and sometimes without food or electricity.
I will not miss teachers who do not show up to class, and administrators who do nothing about it.
I will not miss living in a neighborhood that is so transient and uncared for.
I will not miss unlawful and randomly inflicted corporal punishment by some teachers on students and administrators who turn the other way.
I will not miss living in a closed campus without connection to the village.
I will not miss being treated as an employee of the Ministry of Education with an unspecified project and little to do.
I will not miss decisions imposed by the Peace Corps or the Ministry of Education without consultation of PCVs. 

I will miss the smiles and incredible friendliness of the Botswana people, especially the students at GHSSS.
I will miss riding in a combi, jam-packed with people like sardines, who are all nice to each other.
I will miss eating chips with vinegar or a monster pop in the combi. And playing 3-13 on the ride.
I will miss the challenge of making meals with very limited food supplies.
I will miss tea with our counselling colleagues.
I will miss sms'ing with PCVs several times a day.
I will miss no humidity and hardly any rain.
I will miss recovery meetings in Gaborone and the promise of a new meeting in Goodhope.
I will miss the aroma of cooking by our incredible Bangledeshi/Indian friends and neighbors; more than that I will miss our dinners with them.
I will miss the bright, witty, right on the spot group of Bots11 volunteers we were privileged to be a part of.
I will miss being laid back and appreciating time as something precious and not to be all used up.

I will not miss all of the things John will not miss, as listed above.
I will not miss missing my children, grandchildren and friends SO much (and I know John agrees with this as well!)

The spare beauty of the bush.

Puffy white clouds in the bluest of skies over GHSSS.

The sun sets and we say goodbye.

1 comment:

BlackDolphin said...

I miss playing banana grams with you and ALWAYS losing.
I miss the discussion, thoughtful and thought provoking.
I miss the history we oldies shared and how they apply to the present.
I miss my sister, separated at birth, reconnected and lost again.