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.