Site placement & supervisors workshop


I finally found out where I’m living and working for the next two years! This is a long time coming for me. To everyone who has asked me what I’ll be doing, at last I can give you an actual answer. We definitely went out to the Lodge to celebrate finally knowing what we’re doing the next two years…


I’m not going to say the name of my actual town due to Peace Corps policy, but for any Facebook friends it’s on my wall. I’m moving to a large town of about 49,000 people. Primarily, the town was a mining town, but recently the mine has closed. The mine closing is the only reason I’m able to go there, actually. There were volunteers there before in 2012, but when the mine opened it was determined the air quality would be too poor. It’s a bit bittersweet—I’m excited that I’m able to go there now, but I also know that the closed mine means lots of economic issues.

I’ll be situated on the eastern side of the country, and I’m smack dab in the center—perfect because I’m not too far from either the north or the south. Bad news is I have to take malaria meds because I’m above the malaria line.


I’ll be working for two organizations—one national organization that works on the HIV/AIDS campaign (testing & counseling) and one smaller local NGO that works with key populations (female sex workers & men who have sex with men), substance abuse, and economic empowerment.

We’re spending the end of the week getting bussed to and from Gaborone so we can do a workshop with our supervisors. Before getting into that though, I want to stress how incredible it is to have running water after a month of not having it. I went into the bathroom, could FLUSH the toilet, washed my hands with RUNNING WATER, and used a PAPER TOWEL to dry my hands off. It’s the little things. Never enjoyed a public restroom more.


Our supervisors workshop has been incredible so far. My supervisors from BOTH organizations showed up which was a surprise and super exciting to get to talk with both of them. They both are incredibly nice and seems super excited to start working with me.

For the larger organization, it seems like I’ll be working on organizational development mostly—doing NGO management, working on program planning and implementation, etc. For the smaller one, I’ll be working on more projects and initiatives, depending on what parts need the most help and work. I’m sure there will be some overlap with both sides, but it’s nice to know my main tasks at each.

My larger NGO has an incredible program that works on the intersection of tuberculosis and HIV, which I’m excited to get to be a part of, and will involve some work with data which will be interesting.

My smaller NGO has some programming with key populations (female sex workers and men who have sex with men), and part of what we discussed was doing a permagardening initiative with them to help with food security as well as giving them something to do.

Tomorrow, we leave to go stay at our site for two weeks (and to shadow another volunteer) so we can see where we will be living and working. My site is only about 5 hours from Gaborone, and the national director of my large organization is sending a driver to come pick me & and another volunteer up—exciting!

I will point out that not everything is always rosy in Botswana. Though it’s a peaceful country, there are problems and clashes just like in the United States. 

Unfortunately tonight there was some unrest in Molepolole, and I want to take a moment to acknowledge and send good thoughts to all those affected. 

As for right now, all of my Bots family (PCV and host) is safe 🙂 

Field trip to Gaborone!


We finally got to go to Gaborone and actually SEE the city, as opposed to our first four days in country where we stayed in Gaborone but couldn’t leave our compound. We got a bus tour, and finally got a feel for what the capital city looks like.

To start, calling it a “city” is probably giving the wrong idea of Gaborone. It IS a city, but it isn’t a city in the way that Americans imagine one like New York or Chicago. Gaborone is fairly westernized in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t have the same high-rise buildings and overwhelming size that a lot of American cities do, which makes it feel much easier to get around in.


We drove by the bus rank, which is a giant lot filled to the brim with buses going all over the country (there is even one that goes from Gaborone to Johannesburg in South Africa) along with people in tents selling food, airtime (data for a phone), and little trinkets and candy to take with you on the bus. Most bus ranks have small tuck shops like that, so you never have to worry about getting hungry while on the bus.

One of our main stops was at the Three Dikgosi monument, which is a set of statues of Botswana’s chiefs who met with Queen Victoria to request to be a protectorate. The country recently celebrated their 50th independence day, and all over the capital there are “Botswana 50” signs. We had the chance to take pictures with the monument, and found that there were also some people taking pictures of us! A man had his friend take a picture of him in front of all the lekgoa’s (ley-ko-ha, means “foreigner”) and then ran away so we wouldn’t notice (we noticed).


The AK Glam Fam in front of the Dikgosi Monument!

Part of our driving tour was to go around the governmental hub of the city. We were all calling it “Rodeo Drive,” because it had palm trees, nice white fences, and big buildings housing ambassadors and government workers from all over the country and world. It was a very nice area. We drove past the American embassy as well as the United Nations building in Botswana, which was super exciting for me.

We also were allowed to drive past the president’s house as well as through the parliamentary houses. It was for “authorized vehicles only,” which is then how we realized that this entire month we’ve been carted around in official, government vehicles which is incredibly cool.

One of our stops before heading to eat was the Peace Corps office! It was in a compound filled with palm trees, though not QUITE as ritzy as the American embassy…

The main stops we made though, were at two malls in the capital—Airport Junction and Riverwalk (there was no river there, just a riverbed 😦 it’s dry season right now). Both malls were what you would expect out of an American mall—lots of food, homeware, and super cute clothes I can’t afford. The highlights of both those malls were the food. Our language teacher Akanyang got us chicken wings from Chicken Licken, one of the two main fried chicken places in Botswana. They were 100% the best chicken wings I’ve ever had in my life.

At Riverwalk, we stopped for an actual lunch, where we went to a restaurant that let us sit in the VIP section, a roped off area with couches and tables for us to eat at. We all got burgers, which was an incredible choice. I got a peri-peri burger (peri-peri is a South African spice that most people know because it was brought to Portugal and is used in the restaurant Nando’s, a favorite of mine from London) and fries which was absolutely wonderful and definitely hit the spot of me that was craving American foods.

After that we headed back to Molepolole where some of us went to Lemepe Lodge to play cards and visit. It’s still winter in Botswana, and it’s cold here! The mornings and nights are around 34 degrees, and the days are around 70. Although I’m not enjoying bucket bathing and walking to school in the cold, I know I’ll be wishing for this once summer comes and it’s 100.

Mme & I
My Mme always says she enjoys the winter, but my host sister says it’s “go serrame thata” (ho ser-ah-may tata, too cold). You can see in the picture below how she’s dealing with the weather!
“It’s too cold to eat!”

Meeting the kgosi, permagardening, and the AK Glam Fam


One of our recent cultural excursions was to go to our local kgotla to meet the kgosi. A “kgotla” is essentially the home of local government in Botswana, and it’s headed by the “kgosi,” which is the chief. The chiefs are hereditary, but there is also a system of elections in place for each region and village to determine members of parliament.

It was incredible to see how welcoming everyone was to us, with the kgosis taking time to answer all of our questions. The main takeaway for most of us was the importance of culture (“ngwao”—pronounced, “nwah-oh”) to the people of Botswana. While the kgosi handles lower level disputes and governing issues, their main job is to “preserve the culture of the village.”

We met the kgosis that preside over the kgotlas in our “wards,” or neighborhoods. Our language group along with the other groups near us went to the Goora Mmopi Kgotla, in Boribamo.

I feel very lucky with my language group and especially my language teacher, Akanyang who has taught us so much Setswana in such a short amount of time. She has a fashion boutique called AK Glam, so we’ve named ourselves the AK Glam Fam, and we’ll all be styled by her for swearing in.


Along with learning about the culture of Botswana, we also have been learning certain technical skills that will help us in our jobs. Some are for community programming and mobilization, and some are more labor intensive, ie. PERMAGARDENING.

I was super excited for the permagardening session, and was not disappointed. For anyone who knows my dream of an urban farm, this is step one in the process. Maybe I’ll even get some chickens.

My gardening overalls

Permagardening is often a super good idea to do as a community project, because it doesn’t require many resources and can end up helping to provide food for the village. I’m hoping to do a trial run on my own yard to see what works, and then hopefully find some people in the village excited to join me on a community project.


As much as I absolutely am enjoying my time in Botswana, and did score an incredible bus driver, who stops us at the food stalls near the hospital to get magwinya (fat cakes) and mafresh (french fries with chili powder), it definitely is tiring to be in pre-service training.

I’m getting so much information at once that I know it’s a good thing I took notes, because I won’t remember it later. We spend around 10 hours a day in sessions learning things, and then getting home right before it gets dark to help with dinner, dishes, and studying before bed.

I’m fortunate in that my host family is very cognizant of the busy schedule I have, and make sure we all take turns with household chores so I always have time to catch up on work if I need to.


Thus far, though, my adjustment hasn’t been as harsh as I thought it would be. Sure, I have to make adjustments (bucket bathing isn’t bad, but I’m sure I’ll always miss showers) but it’s a slow transition into the full Batswana culture. We spend a lot of time with Americans, and even have a KFC at the mall. Pre-service is a nice in-between of getting assimilated into the culture without feeling like a fish out of water.


More recently, we went to Buhurutse Cultural Village, where we were able to spend the day learning about the culture of Botswana. We watched a traditional “wedding,” saw  some traditional practices uses to cure sickness, as well as riding a donkey cart to the cattle post. They fed us well while we were there, and we even got seswaa (pounded meat, similar to pulled pork and incredibly delicious!)


Next week during training we will continue learning about our jobs along with how to stay safe and healthy while in Botswana. The week after that, we learn our sites!





Ga gona mathata…

It means no worries…in Setswana. Pronounced “ha ho-nah matata.”
I’ve arrived safely in Molepolole, where all 73 of us will be staying until we swear in on October 4th. It’s been overwhelming and wonderful and a lot of adjusting (bucket baths are easier than I thought, but still unpleasant).
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We arrived and immediately went to our Matching Ceremony, where we all get to meet our host families. It’s a very special occasion, where the head kgosi (kph-see) the paramount chief of the village, comes and we all sing and meet our families one by one.
There is a lot of screaming and hugging and smiling.
I was matched with a wonderful Mme (mother) who gave me a big hug and immediately said “I love you!” Upon getting home I met my 24 year old host sister, Tumie, who speaks fluent English and has become a good friend of mine here in the village.
We each were given a Setswana name by our family, mine is Masego (mah-se-ho) meaning “blessing.”
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I’ve been getting used to a long schedule, with Setswana lessons starting at 7:30am and ending our Pre-Service Training sessions at 5:00pm. Upon getting home, I help with dinner and dishes and study for the next day.
There definitely has been some adjusting for me, in terms of my living style as well as having a lot of people staring at me. In Botswana, I am very clearly different, which is a new and sometimes unsettling experience.
It’s been much more fun that I expected to live with a host family, especially because mine is so accommodating and understanding.
I can tell that they really listened to the information Peace Corps gave them because they are careful to make sure that food is prepared safely for me, don’t get offended if I do something that seems strange to them, and are excited to learn about America and American culture. We made macaroni & cheese the other day, which was a hit.
My host mother is incredibly sweet and has been treating me like one of her kids. She watches out the window for me to get home safely, and surprised me this morning with French toast.
It’s been especially fun having a host sister near my age. She is good friends with the host sister of another Peace Corps friend, Bobby, and it’s a great dynamic to have the four of us hang out (we can always tell they’re gossiping about us when they start speaking Setswana and laughing).
Despite some of the adaptations I have to make being here, I am starting to feel comfortable and even more excited about things to come 🙂