Sunday, July 27, 2014

Still Waiting

July 27, 2014

Remember back in early 2013 when I wrote about the discipline of waiting?  Well I am still learning what it feels like.

There is not much longer to wait.  This week we Bots 13 Peace Corps Volunteers participated in our Close of Service Conference which occurs about three months before we finish our service.  So now we are switching gears and getting ready to leave Botswana.

In this blog entry I'm sharing with you an acrostic and a question from a couple of the journal entries I created recently.

Wishing the time away
Working to fill the minutes
Asking for deliverance
Attending to chores
Idling aimlessly
Interacting with the environment
Tallying up the seconds, minutes, days, weeks
Trying to be useful
Imagining escape
Instigating change
Numbing my brain to the pain
Noticing every transient moment of  pleasure
Groaning and Moaning
Grinning and Bearing It

Not either/or, but
All of the Above!

Definition of Sustainability:  Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

What if: People said they loved cake and really wanted to eat cake but that in their environment it was not possible to make cake.  So you showed them how to make a cake and they enjoyed it very much, and you gave them the recipe after the demonstration.  

They made the cake and it did not rise, and you discovered they had left out the baking powder. They said they didn't have any baking powder so they just left it out.  When you told them to get some baking powder and try it again they said they couldn't afford baking powder, so you gave them some.  They made the cake again and this time they cut the amount of sugar in half, and the cake was rather tasteless.  The next time they made the cake, they omitted the eggs.  The next time they made the cake they baked it at a very low temperature.  The next time they got distracted and busy with something else while making the cake and the batter sat on the kitchen cabinet for a week before they got back to it.  Then, they baked the cake at a very high temperature because they were in a hurry.  

Finally, they said they did not want to try making cake any longer because in their environment it was not possible to make cake.  

The following week they phoned you at 6:00 a.m. and said they were desperately in need of your help!  They were expecting 200 regional dignitaries for lunch at noon and they had promised to serve cake for dessert.  Could you please provide enough cake for 200 people by noon, and no, there were no funds designated for supplies. By some strange coincidence you had just bought supplies the day before, and by working feverishly you were able to deliver 30 cakes to them just in time for dessert. Everyone was so appreciative and the cakes were thoroughly enjoyed.  In fact they said they wanted to schedule a cake-making workshop as soon as possible.  

However, a year later they had not been able to find time on the schedule to include a work shop and funding for workshops seemed to have disappeared. In the meantime, two people asked you for your cake recipe.

What conclusions would you draw from this experience?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What The Lizard Taught My Students


I think classroom teaching at a Junior Secondary School in Botswana is the hardest work I have ever done.  Youngsters at a JSS typically range in age from 12 to 16 – what Americans would call 8th to 10th graders and which Batswana designate as Form 1 to 3 students.  Each class consists of about 40 students, relatively equally consisting of males and females.
What makes the job difficult is that most of the students do not respond interactively with the teacher.  This is not only true for me, the strange old lady from America with a difficult-to-understand accent, but for their Batswana teachers, too.  On a good day, maybe four or five students will carry the burden of answering questions and participating in class.  On a not so good day, nobody will talk back to me.  I often leave classrooms feeling disappointed and dissatisfied with both the students’ performances and mine.
Although the government mandates that all subjects at secondary schools be taught in English, it is doubtful that the majority of the JSS students in any given class fully comprehend lessons that are taught entirely in English.  Consequently, class teachers use both English and Setswana to get the material taught.  I don’t have that option.  Most of the time I end up wondering if what I have presented in a class, no matter how creatively, has been comprehended by anyone at all.  It’s very disheartening.  

And then…….I have an experience like the one on Friday March 21.

I was with a Form 1 class that meets in what is called The Pavilion, which is a big, windy hall divided in half by a temporary wall, on the other side of which meets another Form 1 class.  I was endeavoring to teach a topic that has generated good responses in other classes; how a person’s emotional brain, cognitive brain, and judgment center are involved in making decisions.  I especially focused on how our emotional brain compels us to impulsive decisions and behavior (saying, “I want what I want, and I want it NOW”) but that as humans (as compared to dogs, for example) we have the ability to overrule our emotional brain impulses by using our cognitive brains, particularly our judgment centers.
Just about the time I had completed the diagrams and explanations, there arose a loud commotion from the other side of the wall, a boy from the other class ran through our classroom knocking over a desk, and people started screaming as the ruckus increased.  I stepped to the doorless entryway between the classrooms and saw the class teacher calmly seated on a desk with her legs extended in front of her as the students either pursued or fled from a big lizard that was desperately trying to find a way out.  When the lizard headed my way it was preceded by a dozen panicked girls trying to squeeze through the doorway where I stood.  To avoid getting crushed I backed out of the way and the uproar flooded into my classroom along with the lizard.  My students hopped up on top of their desks, or fled the classroom, or joined the mortal attack on the poor lizard who finally met its demise, bludgeoned by his frantic attackers.  
When things were back to almost normal, I told my students that what had just occurred was a perfect illustration of emotional brain impulsive behavior that took over their brains and dictated their behaviors.  We then explored the information stored in their cognitive brains about the lizard (not poisonous, more afraid of us than we are of it, doesn't attack humans) that they could have used to make a wise decision with their judgment centers about the lizard, as the teacher in the other class had done, instead of joining the mass hysteria of the students.
It was lunchtime, class time was over, and they were all so electrified that I thought to myself, “Oh well, let them go.  They are in no state to comprehend anything you are saying.”  I dismissed them, wondering at all the obstacles one has to get past to teach a class here.  
Fast forward to the next morning.  I am sitting outside with a group of students while I wait for members of a study group to show up.  A Form 3 boy stops to ask me a question or two, and when he runs off he flips a girl on the arm and keeps running.  The girl is remonstrating loudly about the pain when the youngster next to me pipes up, “ That was emotional brain behavior,” and the boy standing in front of her says, “Yeah, he wasn't using his comic brain.”

WHOA! What did I just hear?

The youngster next to me continued, “Just like yesterday when we chased and were afraid of that poor lizard that wasn't poisonous and didn't even want to hurt us.”  Then several of the group joined in a brief conversation about emotional brain/cognitive brain behavior.
Well, I don’t have to tell you that a moment like that can re-energize a tired teacher for another effort to keep painfully climbing over the hurdles and running (maybe walking) toward the goal.  At that moment I felt as if I’d been given a great big paycheck.

It doesn't stop there!  

The following week I was in charge of the library during afternoon study time.  Since in the last few months we have placed in the library nearly 1500 books donated by people in the States, students have been thronging in during study time.  A “mob” of about 50 was already pushing at the door when it was time to open that afternoon.  I insisted that people get self-control and prepare to enter in an orderly fashion before I would open the doors.  It took a while but some of the bigger boys directed people to get in line and get quiet, and as I kept urging “self-control” one boy exhorted his classmates, “Don’t use your dog brains, use your judgment centers.”  I had to laugh.
So I’m encouraged to forge ahead and try to build a case with these impulsive early-to-mid teens for making considered, wise choices.  
Just maybe they are absorbing more than their behavior reflects during classes.  Just maybe they are not only hearing me, but understanding what I want them to learn. 
Is it too much to hope for? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It Doesn't Feel Like Much, But it Isn't Nothing

October 12, 2013

It has been months since I posted anything on this blog site where I had intended to keep friends and family up to date on what is happening to me in Botswana.  I have explained that to myself by telling myself that there has been absolutely nothing of interest to post.  I live in a small town and I walk to a Junior Secondary School each school day and to a Preschool once a week. Each day is a carbon copy of the day before.  On week-ends I clean house, cook ahead meals to put in the small freezer compartment in my fridge, go to Lobatse to get supplies, and wash my laundry by hand.  I cannot find anything in those details to post on a blog.  There has appeared to me to be nothing to write about.

So it is a good thing that Peace Corps requires a quarterly work report to be compiled and submitted.  Last week I completed that task for the months of July, August and September.  The good thing about it is that when you write down everything you've done for three months, it isn’t nothing.  As it turns out August and September were relatively productive months.

July was a good time for me because Jim was here and I was busy showing him what my life here is like.

We also made a trip to Swaziland to visit some dear friends we hadn't seen in 15 years.

Dr. Yohannes Gebrenegus

Dr Yohannes' Wife, Dr Lydia Mpango

Dr Yohanes' sister Saba and his son Lucas

Yohannes & Lydia's older son Abe and daughter Hannah
The capital of Swaziland, Mbabane, where our friends live, is beautiful, and even in the middle of the winter season it was green.  Its mountains reminded us a bit of Denver.

The schools in Botswana take a long winter break through July, so there was very little on my work report that month.

However, when I compiled the report, I was surprised to see that in August and September I conducted 15 counseling sessions, taught 25 Guidance and Counseling classes, and had 16 study sessions with groups of students at Ntwalang Junior Secondary School.  

I went to Bright Future Preschool one day a week for eight weeks where I assist with 25 to 30 little ones who are learning to speak English and do pre-reading exercises.  One precocious girl is beginning to read Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop.

I participated in planning sessions for a girls’ camp and then at the end of September I took six girls from Ntwalang to the four-day camp.

Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World)

At the girl's camp, another Peace Corps Volunteer and I taught a class on Mental Health and Emotional Well Being.

That same volunteer and I were also invited to present at a Wellness Day activity organized by the Barolong Tribal Administration for the leaders and administrators of the local government entities in the region. The theme of the Wellness Day Program was Maintaining Positive Attitudes, so we gave the participants some practical tools for creating a positive outlook.

One thing I am happy about was that I finally found a way to show DVDs to my Guidance and Counseling classes.  I was given a library of DVDs in January that focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, and in September I finally managed to get the equipment to show the films to the students.

The best thing this quarter happened the last week of September.  Several months ago Peace Corps sent an email saying they had books in their warehouse that were available to our communities.  In August I brought this to the attention of our school librarian and asked if he was interested.  He definitely was!  It took him several weeks of persistence to arrange transportation to Gaborone to get the books, but on September 23 we made the trip and brought back a truckload of books.  Since then we have been busy sorting and classifying about a thousand books.

The students can't wait to get them.  In some of the boxes, the persons who sent them had included photos and their names.  Even though there was no contact information, the students are insisting that when I go back to the States that I have to find these people and thank them for the books!

I am excited, too, that I was able to select 135 books that are appropriate for Bright Future Preschool.   I can't wait to share them with the little ones.  Until now, I have only had about 10 books that I have been using with them.

Having something useful to do has definitely improved my outlook in the last couple of months.  Additionally, we have gotten through the cold months and the days are getting longer.  That is a great relief.

As Monday October 14th closes, I will have completed half my committed service to Peace Corps.  I wonder how the second year will compare to the first?  Let’s hope there’s something to write home about!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Beyond Expectations

I have spent this past week in Gaborone at The Learning Center School participating in a conference for teachers.  The purpose of the conference was to refresh, uplift, and encourage teachers from around Botswana as they face the challenges of educating Botswana’s youth in densely populated urban or remote rural settings.

The directors of the Learning Center School are Steve and Pam Workman, with whom I have been good friends for forty years.  When I learned in June 2012 that I was coming with Peace Corps to Botswana I was delighted when Jim reminded me that Pam and Steve had been living in Gaborone for ten years.  Pam even came to the airport to say hello when my Peace Corps team arrived in Botswana last September.  Then, this past January, when the Workmans and their co-workers the Shipes began planning the Refresh Conference, they invited me to present a Basic Counseling module at the conference.

In March Pam went to the Ministry of Education to extend the invitation to the teachers officially.  She was assured by the Ministry that the invitation was very welcome and they agreed to notify 300 teachers from around the country, provide their transportation to the conference, and provide lodging for them.  They expressed their appreciation that someone was contributing to building the capacity of their teachers for the difficult challenges they face in educating Botswana’s youth.  

This week, I have been amazed to watch the efficiency and enthusiasm with which the conference has been executed.  Though this is the last week of a two-week break for Botswana schools, and therefore teachers were more free to attend the conference, the Learning Center School  is on a different schedule and they were conducting classes and last week of term activities throughout the conference.  Nevertheless, they conducted the conference and provided lunch for nearly 400 conference attendees each day.

Presenters came from the States to provide uplifting presentations on Affirmation, Perseverance in the Face of Difficulty, and Special Education strategies for managing students' behaviors. 

I could not have predicted the positive response from the conference attendees.  Their participation, attention, attendance, and cooperation were phenomenal.  They were eager to not only receive all the materials provided during the conference, but they insisted on being able to access and replicate the materials when they return to their schools.  They brought their own flash-drives to download material and one participant even purchased CDs so the material could be provided to those who didn't have flash-drives. People were telling us before the conference ended what it had meant to them and how they were already using the ideas and concepts that were presented.

I am encouraged and refreshed, too.  Tuesday, April 16 begins another term at Ntwalang Junior Secondary School, and I will be returning with a more hopeful attitude and a willingness to keep investing energy into blooming where I have been planted.  I am looking forward to the surprises yet to come!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moving Towards Winter

It is the first week of April, and the weather is gradually cooling off. This is the first morning that I am digging socks out of my luggage and putting on a sweat shirt to stay cozy. (Did you say luggage? Yes, I don’t have a closet, so my clothes are still in my luggage, kept zipped shut so no critters can get inside.) I have been told by my neighbors that winter is bitter in Digawana. The sunny, rainless days will be pleasant with temperatures in the 70s, but the nights will get below freezing. In a house made of concrete blocks with a tin roof and no insulation, it will definitely feel like winter. I expect I’ll be buying a space heater in May.

Friends from my village
Last week I had my first visitor from outside the country. Trudy came and spent six days with me over the Easter week-end. Having her here added an expanded perspective to my experience of my life here. I could see that I am actually speaking Setswana, though not anywhere near fluently. I can say it better than I hear it. The most fun conversations are when I speak Setswana and the person I’m talking to answers in English. That way I know I have been correctly understood, and I can understand the response. If they respond in Setswana, I may think I know what we’re talking about, but be far off base. Trudy’s being here also let me see how much I am incorporated into the community.
Everywhere we went, there were people who knew me that I could introduce her to. 
Bride and Groom

We went to a wedding of a co-worker where we enjoyed eating the national food and watching the dancing. We rode the local transportation vehicles to a couple of destinations to visit other Peace Corps Volunteers. We stayed in the rural setting, and I think Trudy got a very accurate taste of what my life is like here. The weather was very nice, though windy on a couple of days, so we were able to walk a lot. I felt refreshed and encouraged by her visit.
Trudy says she will remember me here with either a broom or a fly swatter in my hand.
Friends of the couple led the celebrations
The broom because the wind blows the fine red silt through the cracks around the doors, and the fly swatter because there is a kraal (corral) for livestock just across the path in front of the house. She confirmed for me some of the impressions I have had about flies in Botswana. They are the hardiest flies I have ever seen. They are fast! In Ethiopia Jim could snatch flies out of the air and sometimes you could swat them with your hand, they were so slow. Not so here. They seldom land, and it is very difficult to hit them with a fly swatter even when they do. But the most amazing thing is that after I have hit them and they are lying on the floor dead, they resurrect. I was beginning to suspect that I might have some burgeoning healing gift. I would go to pick up a dead fly to throw it in the trash, and it would fly away. However, Trudy attested that this is typical of Southern Hemisphere flies, and they behave that way, too, in Australia where she grew up.

The day before Trudy arrived I was able to do my first Peace Corps “good deed”. I had arranged for a representative of the King’s Foundation to come and train members of the community how to use a base pack of sports equipment that the foundation provides for persons interested in reaching youth in their communities. Ten people representing three communities Digawana, Gopong, and Molapowabojang met at a local day care center for the training and received the base packs.
King's Foundation Base Pack

One person operates an English medium preschool, another is helping start a new church and has been assigned to teach a Sunday School class of youngsters aged two to fourteen, and the other is the chairman of his Community Support Group for HIV/AIDS and Community Development. In the next couple of weeks I will get the opportunity to visit their sites and see them using the equipment with the children and youth in their local settings.

Two things are on my mind these days, water resources and solar cooking.
Even teachers must carry water
 Everyone knows that water is a challenge in Botswana. People in each community have developed their routines for managing the interruptions in water availability as they occur. At Ntwalang Junior Secondary School where I work, they have had to truck water in every day since January. It is an overriding concern in a boarding school that houses and feeds over 350 students and feeds an extra 350 for lunch every school day. I keep wondering if anything can be done to address this problem. My other question is, how we can use the abundant sunshine to make life easier or at least less expensive for people in this community? Jim has been sending me links about solar cooking, and two days ago, my 15 year old neighbor and I went to the library in Lobatse to use the free wi-fi to do some research. We were greatly disappointed to discover that the internet wasn't working at the library that day. We will try again when we get the chance. I really hope I’ll eventually have some interesting things to write to you about these two topics. Patience and Perseverance will Prevail!!!!


Sunday, February 17, 2013


I apologize for taking so long to post on my blogspot.  For nearly three months now I have been trying to think of an appropriate entry.  Life has consisted of figuring out the details of everyday life here (like the optimum time and place to hang out my laundry so that it doesn’t get smoke-dried from the outdoor cooking fires and how to hold a sun umbrella when I’m out walking so that it doesn’t get destroyed by the wind) and of waiting.  Waiting for promised furniture that has never arrived and funds that arrived just yesterday to be used to pay my rent.  After arriving in Digawana in mid November,waiting while everyone went away for the end of year break from school for the whole month of December. Waiting for the new school year (which commences in January) to get organized so that I can begin to see where I might fit in.  Waiting on a slow internet connection to check e-mail or send photos to Jim so he can send them on to others. Waiting beside the road for a ride to town to get groceries and supplies.

You may think I am complaining, but I am not.  I’m describing what is a very valued character quality for Batswana, Patience.  A friend recently told me, “When you return to America, they are going to be really surprised how patient you have become. The only way to get anything in Botswana is to wait patiently.” I asked her if it is possible to be pushy and patient at the same time, but she said it isn’t.  So I am waiting.  I don’t mind the waiting so much (at least most of the time) but I feel the stress of those who may be waiting on ME to “produce” something, like a blog post or a concrete measurable contribution to World Health and Peace.  I recently thought, “When the meek inherit the earth, it may well be that the world language will be Setswana.” There is a wonderful kindness and gentleness that accompanies the patience that makes waiting more than resigned passivity.  It is a discipline rooted in a commitment to respect others even when it means not getting what you want or need from them.

This past week my waiting was rewarded by being able to be in classrooms co-teaching second and third form students (9th and 10th graders) about anger management, stress reduction, and self awareness.  That’s my idea of fun.  Each class responded differently, though positively.  That’s been like taking a mental health vitamin, boosting my own self-concept this week.  It is hard for me to think that I am not “useful”.  This week I got to feel that I was making some kind of contribution at the school other than cherished mascot.

Yes, cherished.  People here take care of me.  They feed me, they watch out for my welfare, and they tell me that they are glad to have me here.  It amazes me how a complete stranger can show up in a tightly knit community and people make a space and incorporate her into their daily lives, the welcomed intruder.

So that is my blog entry for this time.  I don’t know how long you will have to wait for the next one.  If you have specific questions that I have overlooked answering, e-mail them to me.

Waiting  to hear from  you,


Saturday, December 29, 2012

December in Digawana

The weeks have gone by quickly since the last time I posted here.  Let me see if I can give you a picture of what it has been like.

First of all, I want to recommend a couple of books I’ve read since I’ve been here in Digawana that I think you would enjoy and that have greatly helped me understand Batswana culture and history better. These books will give you a much better understanding of what the world is like here in Botswana than I will ever be able to write in my blog entries.  There are a lot of things that I can’t explain or describe here that you will find well presented in these books. Reading them will make my communications more understandable.

The first is Seretse and Ruth, (by Wilf & Trish Mbanga ISBN. 978-1-85425-101-5) an account of the challenges faced by Botswana’s first president, Seretse Khama, and Ruth Williams (whom Seretse met while he was studying law in Britain in 1947) when they decided to marry. Their marriage resulted in multinational consequences.  The book is an intriguing love story, but it also gives insight to the ancient democratic processes that are endemic to Botswana.  It is written by Wilf and Trisha Mbanga and published by Tafelberg Publishers out of Cape Town.  It might be a challenge to find, but worth the hunt.

The second book I found at the Lobatse Public Library.  It is called The Dixie Medicine Man by Christian John Makgala.  This is a novel written by a Motswana.  It is about an orthopedic surgeon from Mississippi who, after serving in the Viet Nam war, gets a job in a hospital in Botswana.  He decides he wants to study traditional medicine and apprentices himself to a local practitioner.  He stays in Botswana for over 30 years.  This fictitious account reads like a newspaper description of life in Botswana over the years, providing a chronicle of the changes in lifestyles and attitudes.  Even the slightly formal sounding dialogue will give you an idea of the way things are said and done here.      

Ntwalang Junior Secondary School
Now to what’s gone on the last few weeks.  I arrived in Digawana at Ntwalang Junior Secondary School in November just as the school year was ending. The teachers were busy giving tests and preparing grade reports.  The boarding students were packing up to go home to their families.  Everyone was focused on getting things completed so they could go on Christmas break.  I was focused on getting acquainted with my surroundings and trying to attach names to faces.  

School Counseling Office on Right
I spent most of the time with my “counterpart,” the school’s Guidance and Counseling Director, who took me around the community and introduced me to community leaders at the kgotla (City Hall), the clinic, and the social work office. 

My second week here was spent attending an Emotional Intelligence Workshop conducted at the school for the staff by presenters from the Ministry of Education. This gave me a chance to get more closely acquainted with the dozen or so staff members (of around 70 staff members at the school) assigned to the same study group I was in and to see the issues that are of most interest to my co-workers. It gave me some ideas about how I might be of use to the community conducting training modules addressing interpersonal relationship concerns.  I also got to conduct a few individual counseling appointments that week as the Guidance and Counseling Director referred individuals to me. 

During my third week, the school head arranged for me to go to the neighboring village of Gathwane and get acquainted with a group of thirteen peer counselors at the Diphalana Counseling Center.  Most of these young men and women are in their twenties and have already started their families.  They work in surrounding villages talking to children and youth in their schools and homes about HIV/AIDS and health related issues.  This group welcomed me with open hearts, and when they learned of my background in counseling they requested that I join them at a four day, in-house workshop planned for December 17- 20 and invited me to present an introduction to counseling on the morning of the 19th.  That week turned out to be a great learning opportunity as I interacted with the group and its board members and got to hear other presenters at the workshop, too.  I was satisfied that my presentation was also well received, and that gives me hope that I can do similar things at my school once it reconvenes, and perhaps expand it to other schools or peer counseling groups in other areas if it proves useful.  

My Home in Digawana
At my home I have been slowly nesting.  I say slowly because whatever I need has to be brought from the town of Lobatse which is a twenty minute bus ride away.  I go out to the nearby “tarred road,” as it is called here, and wait for a bus or kombi.  There’s no schedule, so the wait may be five minutes or half an hour. Once I’m in Lobatse, I can easily walk to the bank and all the shops I need, or get a taxi to the library on the far side of town.  I can only carry a limited supply of things in my over the shoulder bag and two tote bags as I head back home on the bus, so that’s why I say I’m nesting slowly.  I have to see what extra household items my budget can accommodate each week, and what extra things I can carry in addition to food.  I find it hard to believe, but I can’t buy essentials in Digawana.  Not even fresh vegetables.  If they are available closer than Lobatse, I haven’t discovered them yet.  

Lobatse Bus Rank
One good side effect of having to go to Lobatse for everything is that I am meeting my neighbors on the bus.  Since everyone else also has to get what they need in Lobatse, and people use the bus to commute to school or work in Lobatse or Gaborone,  I am most likely to meet my neighbors there rather than on the many paths that spider through this big, spread-out community. The bus ride also creates a nice space of time for a get-acquainted conversation.

My landlord/neighbors are great.  They are just such kind, even tempered, happy people. They are happy to help me with anything I need, and they even volunteer information I need that I don’t know I need, like how to keep the surface on the cement floors nice by polishing them with a mixture of kerosene and candle wax.  For the first time since I have been here, we were without water on the compound from Saturday, December 22 until Tuesday the 25th.  I had to use some of the reserve water I’d been storing.  Christmas morning at 4:00 there was banging on my door and the neighbor’s daughter saying, “Barbara, wake up, there is water, and it will be gone by 5:00.”  I got my water containers and joined them at the tap.  They filled my containers first.  It took us about an hour to get all the containers filled.  It was a GREAT Christmas present to have water again. 

I had a guest over the Christmas week-end.  A fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, Mary, came to spend a couple of days with me.  It was good to see that I can accommodate a guest.  I cooked things I hadn't tried here before, like my flour-less peanut butter cookies, and she put a whole library of books on my computer that I can download to my Nexus 7 (Google’s answer to the iPad) as I select what I want to read.

Lobatse Public Library
Someone asked how I am feeling about being here.  I would say the best descriptive word is, contented.  I enjoy having to learn new things every day and to solve new dilemmas and figure out how to manage limited resources and make things work.  I enjoy being innovative.  I enjoy looking through the shops in Lobatse for the things I need. I enjoy exploring how people think here and trying to figure out how the culture is structured.  I enjoy the barnyard sounds that surround me during the daytime.  The only thing I don’t like is other people’s loud music in the evenings and the night.  That is the fly in the ointment.  Even earplugs don’t work to block it out.  That situation is going to take some thought and creativity on my part.  My 18 year old neighbor has offered to help me learn how to use my cell phone as a radio.  It requires the use of ear plugs. That might just be the solution.

These first weeks in Digawana are meant to be used to get acquainted with the community and assess what kind of work I will be involved in over the next two years.  That process has been slowed by the Christmas Season.  Many people in Botswana use this time of year to go to their rural places of origin and spend time with their extended families.  So institutions and offices are relatively deserted except for a skeleton staff.  Things will pick up again in January, and I will have a chance to formulate a plan with the appropriate people.  I look forward to telling you about what develops.

At "home" in Botswana,