Hello world! I hope this post finds you all well, enjoying the start of the holiday season, the cold weather and the hustle and bustle this time of year inevitably brings. It is difficult for me to imagine that busy world and the holiday craze. As I sit here, thinking about what I want to write and share with you all about my new life, the overarching theme that comes to mind is the simplicity that has overtaken my world. Time moves in a different way here. The days pass slowly and productivity has become a relative term. I had heard of Africa time and now I am living and breathing that time. At first, I felt ineffective in my village but as I adjust I am learning to celebrate the small victories. It is nice to appreciate the small things and to take time EACH day to reflect on what I am experiencing. Every day, I feel stronger. I feel more confident being here, I am able to cope with my homesickness in more effective ways and I am learning to find joy in the small things - a cloud covering the sun and giving me relief from the heat, turning my tap and water actually coming out, having a successful conversation in Setswana, cooking something delicious to eat for dinner, coming home to kisses from my puppy. The longer I spend here, the more okay with the slow pace I become.
Right now, we are in the integration phase of our service. We are not supposed to be starting new projects but working to integrate into the community and figure out what our role will be. The schools will be shutting down this week for the year and reopen in mid-January. This time has been crucial for me to figure out what projects I want to start as well as building relationships with the staff at my school. So far, I am most excited about implementing a Big Brothers/Big Sisters club between the Junior and Primary school here. The goal is to pair an older student with a younger student to serve as a mentoring program as well as making the transition from Primary school to Junior School easier. Luckily, the staff at both schools are on board and eager to assist me - come January it looks like the club should be up and running! I will also work to revive the PACT club, which is a club that trains the youth to counsel and lead other youth through example. In addition, last week I was marking exams with the teachers and was incredibly discouraged by the results. I was unsure if the results were a reflection of the students efforts or the teachers or a combination of both. I was able to convince the teachers to let me run a data analysis on the students performances in order to revamp the curriculum for next year. I am hopeful that I will be able to make a positive impact on my students' lives and become a trusted resource within the community.
As December approaches its hard to believe that life will slow down even more. The country tends to shut down for the month and I will have even more free time than I already do. Its a hard time to be away from home without distraction and doesn't feel much like the holiday season without family and friends and in this excruciating heat. I know that this time will continue to teach me invaluable lessons and help me to appreciate home more than I ever thought possible. I ask that you all take the time this holiday season to hug your loved ones tight and be thankful to share this time with them. Think of me and know that I am already daydreaming about rejoining in all the Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions that are making me miss home in such a way. A big group of volunteers is getting together for a Friendsgiving this coming weekend and while it won't be the same, it will be nice to celebrate together and allow ourselves a weekend to relish in our Americanism. Cheers, until next time!