Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear Mom

Dear Mom

I know you and grandma taught me how to wash my clothes by hand, and shower with a bucket. But I miss you. We both knew if I avoided cleaning my clothes you guys would jump in and save me. I have decided to take on researching teleportation as a side project. In the mean time I have sent you a gift that will be coming in two to three weeks with a note attached to it saying "Please Clean".

Love,
Finda
Botswana Livin'

Friday, November 25, 2011

An Important Setswana Word

An important word that I have learned in Botswana is pula.

Pula =Botswana Currency

This word can be used for just about anything. For example:
Give me my pula?
Where is my pula?
Heck no, I'm not giving you my pula.

This word has been crowned my new favorite word.

Cheers,
Finda
Without Pula :(

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Training

My weeks have been filled with training, spending time with my host family, studying, and exploring my village. Out of all of these things most of my time is spent in training. Training is from Monday to Saturday and covers a breadth of topics that will be key to assisting us in our roles in our communities. On an overall, most of training can be grouped into five main topics.

Security
In comparison to previous Peace Corps training sessions, security sessions have been increased. These sessions equip us on how to prevent crime, where to go, what to do, and who to call if crime does happen.

Botswana Culture and Language
It is essential to our roles as volunteers to integrate into our communities and adapt to our new homes. In addition to living with our host families, we are provided language lessons and cross cultural workshops. These workshops provide us the opportunity to exam cross-cultural differences and similarities between the Batswana and Americans. Additionally, our group goes on mini field trips to cultural events around town in order to gain an appreciation of the Batswana culture, customs, and traditions.

HIV/ AIDS
Every country works with Peace Corps for different reasons. While all of the volunteers have different backgrounds and skill sets, our core goal is HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Volunteers. With this in mind, our training focuses on educating the causes of HIV/AIDS within Botswana,  and what we can do as volunteers in our various roles.

Personal Health
In addition to learning a new culture, language, etc, we have the luxurious opportunity of encountering new bugs, new climate, and new sicknesses and disease. With all this in mind, sessions are incorporated into our training that teaches us how to cope and overcome things we have or will encounter. Personal Health includes emotional and physical health, which is very important as there are many potential stress factors that a person will encounter living in another country for two years.

Peace Corps Policy
Lastly, policy is also stressed during training in order to ensure that we promote the three missions of Peace Corps in a safe manner.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Toliet Paper

In Botswana, having toilet paper available in the bathroom is not the norm. People normally carry or keep the toilet tissue with them to the bathroom. Coming from a culture that is discreet about their time in the bathroom, walking around with toilet tissue feels like a walk of shame. Each time I pick up the toilet tissue and carry it to the bathroom, I feel like people are staring and whispering “You know where she is going.” Luckily, I am happy to say I am not the only one who feels this way. One of my fellow trainee’s took the time to inform us of her destination to the toilet, after grabbing the toilet tissue. This was very helpful as there was no doubt in our minds where she was going.

In honesty, my feelings are paranoia, but I will like to say if I have to carry around toilet tissue, it would be nice to make it an accessory. So please send me toilet tissue covers.

-Finda

Monday, October 17, 2011

American Food?????


Today I cooked for my host family. I am sure my close family and friends are gasping right now. I am also shocked myself. When I met my host sister she raved about how she liked to cook and how she knows Americans are great cooks. I then informed her that I could not cook.
Still the idea of cooking continued and my host mother requested that I make an American dish. An American dish? Most of my day was spent thinking about what is considered an American dish, and what can I cook using the ingredients that I have. I originally wanted to make honey mustard chicken, but to my dismay I could not find honey or honey mustard. So after reviewing the ingredients that were available, I settled on making deviled eggs, apple and homemade caramel. My host sister assisted me as I prepared the dish. She added bread and salad to the dish to make it more fulfilling. I served my host mom first, and then everyone else. I waited and finally asked what did you think. My host mom responded, “I am satisfied, I am happy to have my first American meal.” Deep down I smiled and responded, “ke a leboga” (thank you).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Home sweet Botswana - 9/17

While English is spoken in Botswana, Botswana does have differences from America. Botswana is mainly a desert. Animals (chickens, goats, cows, donkeys) have free reign. Normally in the early mornings you will see them returning to their homes for food and late at night they are partying like its 1995 (or at least it sounds like it).
At the house I am staying at we use pit latrines and must fetch water outside for showers, washing dishes, and to get regular drinking water. Our water comes from a faucet in our backyard. These facets are similar to the ones that are used to water your grass or wash your car in the states. I must admit certain things like pit latrines, bucket baths, and washing our clothes by hand sound adventurous and exciting to me. So when I encountered these tasks, I happily obliged.
My room is like a regular bedroom in the United States. One thing unique about my village is that families live in a compound. A compound usually consists of a main house that has a kitchen, sometimes a bathroom, and a couple of bedrooms. In addition to the main house, there are smaller houses that contain only a bedroom and sometimes a place to shower. For example, my host mother and I stay in the main house, and my host brother and sister’s bedrooms are the smaller houses on our compound. We eat and hang out in the main house, but at night we go to our separate spaces.
While only being at my homestay for about a day, I feel like I am integrated into my family. My host mother has already given me a new name, Mpho, meaning gift.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meet your new family - 9/16

Today, we did our homestay (host family) ceremony. Peace Corps Homestay Matching Ceremony is a ceremony where trainees meet their homestay or host family for the first time. The ceremony is filled with wonderful speeches, food, and prayer. Distinguished guests within the Botswana government are invited and as a trainee we are provided the opportunity to sit and mingle with our new host family as well as meet host families. The day prior to ceremony we are given the names of the head of the household and are told to practice their name. During the ceremony, trainees and host family state each other’s names to the public as a way of introducing each other.
This all happened after being in the country for two days. Having practiced little to no Setswana, I was slightly panicked. The thought of spending a 3 days with a family and only knowing Dumela (Hello) made me quite nervous.
To my pleasant surprise my host sister knew English and was very comfortable with foreigners. She is very friendly and has only made great strides to assist me with getting familiar with Botswana. On my first day at my new home, my host sister and I walked around our village and I met several of her friends. I greeted them all with the only word I knew in Setswana (the most common language of the Batswana people), Duemla. Fortunately, most of them also spoke English.

Monday, October 10, 2011

#1 Item to Bring to Botswana…Me, Myself, and I

Joining the Peace Corps is a dream come true, so it is very important that I bring along me, myself, and I. Adapting to a new culture and learning a new language will be tough, but by bringing my genuine personality I am removing the difficulty of being someone that I am not. My expectation is to be no one, but myself (under the context of the culture). I understand that I am coming to a new culture, and I will need to observe, adapt, and learn. This experience will provide me the opportunity to grow as a person, and to push myself. It will question many parts of my personality, identity, and values, but I know this will make me a stronger and better person.

I am ready.
Update 09.15.2011: After a 16 hour plan ride, I am happy to say I have arrived safely in Botswana with my fellow trainees.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Starfish Story


The Starfish Story

adapted from The Star Throwerby Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, so he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

As if he hadn't heard, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he turned, smiled and said, "It made a difference to that one!"

Botswana Top 5 Items to Pack #2

Strength & Perverseness

 As a future volunteer you are constantly reminded that your work may go unnoticed or the fruits of your labor may not always be seen during your tenure. This is understandable, think about the Women's Rights Movement or the Civil Rights Movement. The ability to change or positively impact a group of people doesn't happen over night. And once you have a majority of the people on your side, there will still be some hills to climb. For example, women are still not always being paid equal to their male counterparts, and racial profiling and police brutality is still alive and well. With this knowledge, I have decided to pack a lot of strength and perseverance. I am a highly motivated individual, but I know there will be days where I will not want to get out of bed. While I pray this is few and far between, I am aware it will happen. That's when I will open up a can of strength and perseverance.

  Whatever it may come from, where ever it may come from, it will be that reality check that makes me aware that all I can be is my best, this has been my dream since I was young, and that sometimes its helping one person that can mean so much more.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So You Want to Save the World

Note: This post was sparked by a twitter comment by my friend, I hope you find it entertaining and useful 


After learning about the awesome experiences of Peace Corps, you have realized that you too would like to save the world. This task isn't easy, it's probably as hard as taking over the world. (Even Pinky and the Brain have yet to figure out this feat) But I applaud your efforts for realizing that the world needs to be saved. Some of you reading this post may be thinking, "how can the entire world need to saved?" Well there is pollution, homelessness, poverty, and the crying child who wants candy. Why you might ask, well we are all a part of this world and sometimes in our lives we find that we need someone to save us. Saving can come as donating, smiling at another person, a hug, listening, volunteering, etc. We can all make this world a better place by actively participating in it and helping one another. It's that easy. And I bet you thought this blog post would be extremely long. No sir, you too can start now at helping to save the Earth. So what is stopping you?




-Finda
ictpc.blogspot.com

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why I Joined the Peace Corps

Telling other people that I have joined the Peace Corps have caused many reactions. Some that I have not anticipated, and others that have been really receptive. I have a wonderful career as a Software Engineer, and I can understand why to some this change can be surprising so I thought I write this post.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Botswana Top 5 Items to Pack #3

Item #3: Humor(Laughter and Jokes)


   I am aware that by accepting my invitation to Botswana I will have the opportunity to learn a new culture, language, tradition, history, and experience AWESOME Adventures. While I will make sure to be open minded and not to bring any assumptions (Item #5), I will be bringing my sense of humor and sometimes lame jokes. As ridiculous as things may seem in my eyes, I will learn to laugh and be in the moment. The Peace Corps is a wonderful opportunity, and I personally think humor will be key for me to assist in helping me with stressful situations. Smiling, laughter, and jokes is a great way to connect with people. Whether its sharing past memories that make a person laugh, to moments I may find myself, humor will definitely be key.


-Finda
ictpc.blogspot.com

Friday, July 1, 2011

Selecting a Laptop and External Hard Drive to bring to the Peace Corps

Having a computing background, I have become the automatic technical support to family and friends. This is a blessing and a curse. This helpful guide has been created in order to assist current and future volunteers who are considering purchasing a new laptop or external hard drive.


Helpful General Advice:
While I have my own biases on electronics, I would recommend bringing a device that you are comfortable using. Make sure to test out the product prior to packing it away. It may be necessary to go to your local electronics store to check out their products, and compare their prices with online companies in or to guarantee that your getting the best price. 


Assessing your needs:
Before looking at the various products that are available, you should do a basic assessment concerning your needs and the environment you will be encountering. Ask yourself these questions to get a general idea of what you should be looking for in products.


Laptops 
  • What will be your main purpose for your computer?
  • Besides the main purpose you are getting the computer, what else will you be using the computer for?
  • Will you be carrying your computer around?
  • How long do you think you will be using the computer?
  • Will you be encountering any extreme temperatures?
  • Do you have an preference in color, size, or company?
  • Will anyone else be using your computer? If so, please answer the questions concerning the second person?
  • Do you have any weight restrictions for the product?
  • Do you drop items easily?
External Hard Drive
  • What will you be storing on the hard drive?
  • What are the top 3 things you will be storing on your hard drive?
  • Will you be traveling with your hard drive?
  • What other items will you most likely be bringing when you travel with your hard drive?
  • Will you have a consistent source of electricity when using your hard drive?
  • Will you be encountering any extreme temperatures?
  • Do you have any weight restrictions for the product?
  • Do you drop items easily?
Based on the questions above you should get a good idea of how much space you will need, your ideal battery life for the electronic, the size, color, etc.

Selecting a Brand to buy:
In terms of brands, I would suggest pick a brand your familiar with, ask around, or research. In the end you want a product that you feel comfortable with and are able to use.

Additional Items to Consider:
In addition to considering a laptop and/or an external hard drive, consider buying a computer lock, computer case, a computer bag, an additional battery, a laptop fan, etc. Accessories may save you in terms on ensuring that your electronic device is secure and long lasting. 

Most importantly, inhale and exhale, selecting a laptop and a external hard drive is really not that bad.

Useful Links:
I have listed below some sites that have great deals: 


-Finda

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Botswana Top 5 Items to Pack #4

Item #4: A reminder to focus on the people

This idea/item was instilled upon my heart by my friend's father. While there may be many things going on concerning the politics of a country, it is important that I remain steadfast and focus on the people. I joined the Peace Corps because I am a humanitarian and I enjoy helping other people. This can be easily forgotten while I am away as it is a known fact that volunteering for 2 years will be an interesting challenge. No wonder a tagline you often hear associated with Peace Corps is "The Hardest Job You'll Ever Love."  It is important to have a base or idea that I can look to in order to be reminded of why I originally joined the Peace Corps. This will be helpful when I need motivation or courage to overcome a challenge. That reminder will be that very advice I was given, which is to focus on the people.


-Finda

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Botswana Top 5 Items to Pack #5

As I prepare for my journey to Botswana, I have discovered five important items that will be necessary for me to pack. Each of these items will come in handy when working with other people, but most importantly, these items will be a consistent reminder of why I have always wanted to do Peace Corps.

Item #5: No Assumptions

When I think of my time in Botswana, my mind draws a blank. After being differed from the Peace Corps, my dream of serving was slowly dwindling. However, due to my strong resilience I finished out my deferral and reactivated my application. Being selected for Botswana has been a blessing, and as I research about the culture and learn about the language, I have promised myself to not bring any assumptions. That means no assumptions of the people, my project, or anything of that nature. These next two years will be an adventure for me, and as I live each moment the blank I currently have in my mind will be filled with sweet memories.

tlhôla sentle
-Finda

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Botswana 2011 Facebook Group.

Hey Soon to Be and Currently Serving 2011 Botswana Peace Corps Volunteers,

So I noticed there wasn't a Peace Corps 2011 Group on Facebook. Shocked at this amazement, I took the liberty of creating one so we could all connect.

Join me as we share our experiences, stories, advice, and tips, on the Peace Corps Botswana 2011 Group



Cheers,
Finda

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I'm Invited!!!!

Photo of me once receiving my package

Oh my GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!! My invitation is finally here. I woke up at 8am in the morning and drove my dog and myself to UPS. My mind was racing on the potential places I could go, and the various things that I could potentially do. Once I returned home, I made breakfast. Yes, I made breakfast, I was hungry :D. I waited 2yrs for an invitation, a couple of minutes wouldn't hurt.

Finally, once Charlie (my dog) and myself were fed, I opened the package.

BOTSWANA!!!!!!!! BOTSWANA, BOTSWANA, BOTSWANA (I like saying the name). I will be going to BOTSWANA to work as a District Community Liaison. I am so thankful for my placement and I can't wait to start. But until I leave for staging, I have a huge list of things to do.

 It took me 2yrs. Yes, 2yrs to get into the Peace Corps. Coming this far is bitter sweet. I look forward to my upcoming journey. Until then, I need to prepare.



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