Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Improve Your Speed and Bandwidth on Slow Internet Part 1:

Hey Everyone,

 Here are some tips I have learned concerning improving my internet experience on slow internet. These tips are specifically geared towards my fellow volunteers around the world :D

Tip #1: Utilize mobile sites instead of the regular website when using the internet on a computer

Example Mobile Sites:
Social Media:
- Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/
- Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/
Email:
- Google: https://mail.google.com/mail/x/
- Yahoo: m.yahoo.com/mail
- Hotmail: https://mid.live.com/

Tip #2: Disable Images in your Browser
Photo's can use up a significant amount of data. Many websites utilize images for their icons, backgrounds, etc. While images can add to your overall web browsing experience, I would recommend disabling your images initially in your browser, and turning back on the option when you REALLY want to see the photo.

Firefox:
Go to Tools->Options
Click on the Content Tab
Click on Load Images to remove the check mark

Internet Explorer:
Go to Tools->Internet Options
Select the Advance Tab
Scroll down to the Multimedia Section
Click on Show pictures to remove the check mark

**Check out the web on how to disable images for other browsers.**

Tip #3: Download a Chat Client/Instant Messenger
  I love speaking to family and friends back home and downloading a chat client/instant messenger has made performing this task very simple. Though downloading a chat client can utilize a bit of your data plan, it is worth it. After installing a chat client, you no longer have to worry about using your bandwidth to download images, or unnecessary buttons, etc. Your chat client simply allows you to long into your specific chat server and listens for new instant messages, in addition to sending your instant messages.
Listed below are some awesome chat clients/instant messengers.:

Chat clients that allow you to connect to several chat servers at a time:
Pidgin: www.pidgin.im/
Digsby: www.digsby.com/
Trillian: www.trillian.im/ 

Company-specific chat clients, that may or may not have the ability to connect to other chat servers:
Google Chat: talk.google.com/ 
Windows Live Messenger (formerly named MSN Messenger): http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-live/essentials-home
Yahoo Messenger:   messenger.yahoo.com/

Here is a helpful wikipedia page that compares some chat clients: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_instant_messaging_clients 

 Tip #4: Select the HTML Option of a website, if it is available
 If a website provides an HTML Option, please use it. While there are so many awesome features when PHP, Javascript, and other awesome programming languages are utilized, sometimes utilizing simple HTML is all we need to get the job done.

Stay Tuned for more helpful Tips 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Bots 11 and Me

I remember the night before heading to Philadelphia. I was so nervous. My mom and I were packing, and arguing about what things I could pack and could not. I had to leave most of my books home and a picture frame that I wanted to put in my house. We finally finished at 6am, and by 9am I was rushing to CVS to find one or two little items that I needed.

This day was finally here, I was going to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. I was leaving my 
family, friends, and a pet at home and going to a place of uncertainty. Whenever I thought about my life in Botswana, all I could see was black. I was fine with not assuming my living circumstance as friends who were RPCV's always advised me to not assume anything, and to embrace this moment.

As I sit here on a beautiful Saturday morning, I can surely say I have embraced this moment. The many emotions I have felt, my highs and lows, and the wonderful adventures. A year has taught me a lot about myself, and my wonderful community. I am proud to say I have another year to spend with this wonderful community, but another part of me is anxious and scared. There is still so much to do, and can I really do it all in a year?

In another year I will be making the courageous step of returning home. I truly am saddened at the thought of leaving my new friends and family. This journey I have been on has taught me that I am adaptable, and sometimes the most precious and beautiful moments are in fact being in the moment. I live a very basic life, but yet I am still content. I am happy to be living my dream.

I do miss my family and friends back at home, but I am proud to say that I know they will always be there for me. That simple thought sustains me.

In some crazy, ridiculous way, I know all things will work out.

Happy One Anniversary!!!!
-Finda

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My first care package



While several of the volunteers have gotten care packages throughout their service and training, I have officially received my first care package about 10 months into my service. I am so excited about this first care package that I felt it was blog worthy material. So bear with me :D

(Thinks back...)

It was a sunny day on July 5, 2012. I think it was about 8am when I had just arrived in the office when one of my coworkers said I had a package. I was shocked and couldn't believe it. "I have a package...this can't be true," I remarked to myself, but two seconds later my coworker handed me a package. After seeing the package, I jumped for joy. Usually, I receive monthly mail from Peace Corps, but today, I received a package all the way from America. I was so ecstatic, I was tempted to hang the packaging up in my house. "My very first package," I said to myself. I examined the packaging. "Hmmm, snacks, I wonder what kind," I said as I read the postage slip. I slowly opened the package and carefully pulled the contents out. I received a letter and some snacks from my dear friend Dupe!

Dupe your so awesome. Thank you very much for being the first to send me a care package.

A photo of a very happy Finda

















Much love,
-Finda

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 15 - TeachAIDS Day

This past Friday was TeachAIDS Day in Botswana. TeachAIDS is an interactive flash animation that teaches kids about HIV/AIDS. It is a non-profit organization that produces HIV/AIDS related material that utilizes local norms and analogies. I especially enjoy knowing that this tool utilized local celebrity voices for the characters in the video. The tool also went as far as ensuring characters accurately reflected the Batswana (the people of Botswana) in terms of looks and mannerisms. On an overall, It is a great tool and I have been using it since we were presented the tool during our In-Service Training. 

On TeachAIDS Day we were all tasked with the goal of presenting TeachAIDS to the community. I collaborated with two volunteers to present TeachAIDS at a primary school, and to health workers in a nearby village. On an overall, the day went smoothly, we had all the necessary tools and resources (transportation, speakers, laptop, and projector) to present the tool in the community. Here are some photo's from that day:

Mia introducing the video and the PCV Volunteers who came to visit

The kids watching TeachAIDS in the school's cafeteria



Diana asking some discussion questions after the video




Learn more about TeachAIDS at: www.teachaids.org
Check out YouTube video clips of TeachAIDS at: www.youtube.com/user/TeachAIDS  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Losing a Friend - Early Terminating Volunteers

In September 2011, Bots 11 (Peace Corps 11th group of Volunteers) arrived in Botswana. Up until last month, my group had the acclaimed fame of having all 35 volunteers or 100% of us remaining in Botswana. Having everyone in a Peace Corps group remain in the country for their service is unusual. Usually, an average of 30% of the Volunteers that come to the country will leave at some point in time in their service.

Losing a volunteer is a painful time for a group of Volunteers. With that in mind, losing our two Volunteers from our group has been a sad moment for my Bots 11 family. These fellow volunteers were a part of our support system during this Peace Corps adventure. This sad but familiar felling can be equated to having a friend or relative abruptly leave.

Unfortunately, people leave the Peace Corps early for many reasons. As a Volunteer we sacrifice a lot to get here, and at the same time we leave many things behind. We leave our family and friends. Some of us leave our jobs or even sell our houses. Deciding to go back home can be an easy or hard decision (depending on the person). This decision can also be sometimes made for us. Peace Corps categorizes these reasons into four categories.

Resignation:
Resignation is when a Volunteer decides to discontinue their service.

Medical Separation:
Medical Separation can occur if a Volunteer has a medical condition that cannot be accommodated or resolved within the country

Administrative Separation:
A Volunteer can be Administratively Separated if he or she fails to follow the policies and regulations that in place for their safety and well-being. This decision is made by the Country Director.

Interrupted Service:
Interrupted Service can occur if the country or site the volunteer is located is in a circumstance that can not be amended. This decision is also made by the Country Director.

(Resource: http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Early_Termination)

Leaving the country we are assigned to can mean leaving our host families, counterparts, and new friends. After establishing close relationships and partnerships the idea of leaving prior to a persons close of service date can be tough. Even though leaving can be tough, sometimes it can be the best decision.

For our lost two Volunteers, please know that you are forever a Bots 11. We all admire you for making a decision that was right for you, but we do miss you. You both have positively impacted and touched all our lives. Thank you for the sweet memories.

Farewell,
-Finda

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Colder in Botswana


This morning I woke up to hearing water leaking from my roof. Apparently, my geyser broke that night, and I became the lucky resident with a leaky roof. What is a geyser, you might ask? A geyser is similar to a water heater. Water is either heated by sunlight or electricity at my house. It is located on my roof.

Prior to today, I was living a great Posh Corps. Posh Corps is a term used to describe Peace Corps Volunteers who have some amenities that are similar to people currently living in the United States. I have a two bedroom house with indoor plumbing. What more could I ask for? Well today I know that answer, hot water. There is nothing like taking a hot shower or bath. Prior to coming to my site I was accustomed to heating my water over the stove, and filling the tub or a bucket with half hot water and half cold. It was not a very tedious task, but having a geyser made things very simple.

Gone are the days of little to no effort when preparing for a bath. I am very saddened by this fact as winter is already here.



 







Cold in Botswana,
 -Finda

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Money can solve all problems, so we all should be rich


In America and Africa, I hear one thing in common. Apparently we are all limited by the money we have. We cannot do, we cannot help because we do not have enough.

That’s why I like Peace Corps. We are trained to work with community members to appreciate their accomplishments, to identify issues that can be fixed, and to train/capacity build them in areas they identify they need assistance.

Commentary by Finda

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Botswana Homemade Bread - A Taste of Botswana Food

Here is a recipe that I use almost every week to make homemade bread. Try it at home, and take photo's, and lastly comment below and let me know how it went. Diphaphata (Dee-pa-pat-ta) is very popular in Botswana because it tastes great. Happy cooking :D

-Finda

Diphaphata - Botswana Homemade Bread   

Diphaphata is a great tasting bread that be eaten as hamburger bread to dinner roles. There are many creative ways to use this bread. Additionally, extra ingredients can be added to give Diphaphata a different taste, look, etc.

Ingredients:

4 cups of white or brown flour
10g or 1 pack of yeast
Salt
Sugar
1.5 cups of warm water

Directions:

1.       Add flour, yeast, salt and/or sugar in a mixing bowl.
a.       Note: Add enough salt and sugar to your personal preference
2.       Add warm water to your mixing bowl and mix ingredients into a dough
3.       Continue to add warm water until the dough is soft and without any bumps
4.       Let dough sit for 10 to 15 minutes in order to allow the yeast to raise the dough
5.       Separate dough into 8 to 12 round balls
6.       Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees
7.       Lightly grease your baking pan and place dough balls onto the pan
8.       Bake the dough for 10 to 15 minutes or until the dough is lightly golden brown
9.       Serve with butter, jelly, tea or by itself

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Food...how many of us eat it?

Coming from an African Family, and being first generation African American the food from Botswana has not drifted too far from my diet back in the states. Check out some of the awesome local dishes some of us volunteers get to experience:

Phaletšhe is pictured on the left, chicken is pictured at the top right, and morogo is pictured on the bottom right
Morogo (mo-row-ho)
Morogo are leaves from beans that are cooked similar to spiniach. Tomatoes and onions are normally added to the dish to provide additional flavour.


Phaletšhe (pa-lay-she)
Phaletšhe is pictured on the left in the photo above. It is made out of corn and tastes similar to foo foo. Corn is the staple crop in Botswana, which is similar to the United States. Unlike the United States, sugar is still used in most products in Botswana


Motogo(mo-toe-ho) 
Motogo is porridge made out of sorghum. According to Wikipedia, sorgum is a genus of grass that is raised for grain. It can be found in countries with warm weather. Motogo reminds me of oatmeal, rice pap, or porridge made in the states.  

(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorghum)



Kabu is pictures on the left,
dithotse is pictured at the bottom right,
 manoko is pictured
Kabu (Ka-bu)
Kabu is dried corn. It is cooked than air dried in the sun.

Dithotse (dee-clo-say)
Dithotse are dried and salted watermelon seeds. They remind me of sunflower seeds.

Manoko (ma-no-ko)
Manoko are peanuts...enough said :D




 Dikogbe (di-kho-bey)
Dikogobe is a dish made from beans and sometimes kabu. The dish reminds me of cooked black eyed peas. In fact, sometimes black eyed peas are used to make this dish.




Magwinya (Ma-gween-ya) aka Fat Cakes
Fat cakes are like donuts. They are made out of dough, sugar, and yeast. They are an awesome dessert and taste great with soup.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Donkey Files



Speaking of animals you have to chase out your yard, I would like to introduce exhibit A, the donkeys.


Unlike Eeyore on Winnie the Pooh, these donkey's (in simple terms) just don't care. Donkey pregnancy is rampant, and people rarely use their donkeys. With this in mind, they are free to roam wherever and whenever they want. Additionally, donkey meat is the lowest quality type of meat you could eat. So on my side of town they run things, and they know it.


Example 1: 
Unlike other animals, donkey's have somehow found out it is a fine or even jail time to kill another persons animal. They have decided with their new found knowledge to stand in the middle of the street, or to start crossing nonchalantly across the road. Yes sir, these donkey's are smart, and they look at us as if we are stupid.


Example 2:
 Why might you ask why I would need to chase donkey's out my yard. Well it's for two things. The first reason is that they like to eat grass and other shrubbery. While this is fine, donkey's also have no problem pooping where they eat. This is my first issue with having donkey's eat the grass in my yard. The second less obvious reason is that they will turn on your tap outside, crowd around the tap, and have a small party all night long. Once again they are aware they are doing wrong. How do I know? Well because when you wake up in the morning and see the remnants of the donkey party which include water running all night and tired donkeys they will quickly run outside the gate. Even though most donkeys will run, they are some donkey's (in simple terms) that just don't care, and will only leave your yard after chasing them out your yard. Outside your gate, these donkeys tend to look  at you as if you did something wrong.




Oh Donkeys :/


-Finda

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Who has baboon's hanging in her yard...this girl

So I didn't really believe it when I first heard it, but seeing baboon's in my yard the other day was unbelievable. I woke up early, expecting to have a regular Monday morning when I decided to looked outside the window. They were running as a pack, and I nearly panicked. "Oh my gosh" I said to myself and ran for my camera. I started to take pics from the safe distance  of in my house. I then decided I wanted to see this with my own eyes. So I searched for my glasses, but first I wanted to tell someone. So I searched for my phone. In between searching for my phone and glasses, I asked myself, "Why am I not just experiencing this?" Who knows when I will see them again. They looked so cute, until they started jumping fences. Then I realized I had another animal who is a pest in my yard. As cute as baboons look far away, there is something scary about them when they are in your yard.


- Finda

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Highlight on music in Botswana


 I don't have to go far to be reminded of America. By simply turning on the radio I can hear some of the most popular songs that are currently in the states. House music, Pop, Hip Hop are very popular in Botswana, but outside of House Music and the Top 100 I wanted to highlight four types of music that is also heard in Botswana.


 Kwasa Kwasa/Rumba: Kwasa Kwasa and Rumba can be easily be identified here because the beat encourages people to dance with their hips. It has more guitars in the music. Normally when people dance at parties and even traditional dancing there is a focus on the feet. I find this to be an interesting observation because in some West African countries there is a focus on the hips, and in some East African countries there is a focus on the shoulders. Beyonce's music video "Girls" is a great example of a mixture of various different dance styles that have originated in Africa. Kwasa Kwasa/Rumba originated in Northern Sub-Sahara Countries.



  Artist: Franco
  Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMAhbztQ_hA
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDszY0cjoS8




Disco: Disco has never left Botswana, and I strongly think it never will. There are many music classics in this genre. Evonne Chaka Chaka, a world renowned singer, can be heard on the radio.
  



  Artist: Evonne Chaka Chaka
    Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9lwA3sfWQ0





Kwaito: Similar to Kwasa Kwasa, Kwaito music can encourages people to dance with their hip. It has more of a hip hop flavor when it comes to the sound. Check out some of Vee's music linked below to get a taste of Kwaito.



   Artist: Vee
     Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pw9f7-OE7Y
             http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtGWHq6YydA



Traditional Music: Traditional Music is music unique to Botswana. It utilizes traditional instruments but with modern technology Traditional Music can easily be mixed and remixed to have a hip new flavour. Culture Spears is a popular traditional music artist. Check out some of his video's below:            

Artist: Culture Spears
 Link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvHj-x9e8XM

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmc9gajd_n4

Monday, April 9, 2012

IST - Overview

I have been in the country for officially 7 months (Victory Leap :D). In late January, my fellow volunteers and I attended our In-Service Training. Prior to these two weeks most of us were in our communities learning as much as possible in order to understand the issues and opportunities our communities currently face. Our training was held at a hotel, and I must admit hotel amenities were a wonderful get away experience for all of us.
Workshops were held each day to provide an opportunity for us to learn about each other’s site, collaborate, learn about current services offered in Botswana, and learn new skills (Strategic Planning and Project Management and Design).

Leaving IST has made me excited and a bit fearful of what lies ahead. Surprisingly, I remember having this same feeling when I graduated high school. There are many choices/opportunities that I have today and for my remainder of my time here. For example, I have the choice to be my best, or the choice to be lazy; the choice to live out of my new comforts or the choice to grow as a person. One thing is for sure, I like my choices :D

-Finda

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things I fail to admit that I like to do since I arrived here in Botswana

I have gained some new and restarted some old hobbies since I have been in Botswana. I thought I share with you some of those hobbies.




Making Preparations for Having a Chicken - For some odd reason I feel I will not get as attached to a chicken as I would a dog or cat. Yet, I have made a bed for my chicken. Thought of names for the girl and guy, and even talked about getting one with close friends.

Update: I was able to successfully buy a chicken last week (March 16, 2012). Her name was Chicken Patty. Unfortunately, I am unable to find her :(





Making Yogurt - Yeah I said it! Somehow I am infatuated with trying to make yogurt with the right consistency as the ones we buy in the store. I love that I am getting closer 

Cooking - I once again do not have a microwave, but this time I am in a country where its a norm. I find myself cooking a lot. I miss fast food, but when I start craving hamburgers, french fries, or pizza, I just make them.




Working Out - Ok, maybe just dancing around my house in cute clothes is what I consider working out. I enjoy watching Zumba on my laptop, and I have even mastered jumping rope in my living room. 


Drawing - I always hated coloring, but luckily I have a sweet neighbor who color's all the pictures I draw. So I enjoy drawing for her. Sometimes I even allow her and her friends to provide me with requests. 








All and all, I have no issue living by myself. My biggest fear here is actually meeting people since I have to force myself to use Setswana. Luckily, I am an outdoor person, so it is a matter of just pushing myself to do it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Beauty Pageants

So I have attended three beauty pageants and have been a judge for one, so I thought I would make a blog entry on this topic.  I am sure many of you have seen Beauty Pageants on TV. In my village, Beauty Pageants are a wonderful past time shared by the community. There are individual competitions and partner competitions. In both cases, participants showcase their best walk, knowledge, and sometimes even talents to the judges and community members. Kids even imitate beauty competitions by merely walking around like a model. I find this amusing and even sometimes participate in these games.

 There is a lot of excitement that goes on around beauty pageants as a DJ is invited and community members are excited about who they want to win. At the beginning of the event there is an initial walk around the stage by all the contestants. Normally they wear the same colors or the same article of clothing. Participants must try extra hard to stand out from the crowd, whether its by their walk, smile, or slight pose. 

The next round is normally the formal wear. Each contestant gets a turn on the stage to show off their outfit and model off their features.  Once this round is over, it is usually followed by a traditional attire competition. Afterwords, the judges combine their scores and determine the top five contestants.


 The top five contestants are asked questions by the judging panel to see the contestant’s knowledge on a particular topic. Once the top five contestants have answered their questions the judges deliberate and the winner is announce.





Unlike in the United States, I have yet to see a swimsuit competition, and the talent portion is not an often occurrence. Similar to United States, participants bring out their best to showcase themselves (clothes, make-up, etc.). It’s a good time, and provides the community a great time to be together.

P.S: Photo’s Featured Here are from our Cross Dress Beauty Pageant Fundraiser. Funds made for this pageant were used to build a home for a destitute person in the community. AND YES IT WAS HILARIOUS: D

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Ex- Roommate



His name was Jack. He was illegally living with me for two weeks. I had no idea he was living here until I decided to clean one weekend.

We met each other screaming and running from each other. Him running because he got spotted and me running because I spotted a lizard.

There is a lizard in this picture can you find him?
After calling friends and calming myself down.  I realized his stay wasn’t so bad. He could eat all the bugs, but he wasn’t. He was a lazy lizard. I am not sure what he was eating or maybe I was too fast in cleaning the bugs. 

But all I know is one Saturday morning I had the door open and he walked out. He looked back at me and I looked at him, no longer being afraid of his presence, and he walked away.


Dear Ex-Roommate,
  If you should one day read this, I just wanted to say I hope you didn’t leave any lizard poop anywhere because I am never going near the box I found you in again.

-Finda

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Lands

During the New Year I got the wonderful opportunity to spend New Years and the day following at the lands. The lands refer to the plowing lands here in Botswana. Most families own lands and a cattle post.  A cattle post is a farm where families keep their cattle. Cattle are highly valued in Botswana.

During Holidays, most families head to their lands and cattle posts to do some plowing or to watch the cattle. During the regular days, most families have family members or hired headmen to watch over their property. 

The life at the lands is very simple. There is little to no electricity, and water is very precious.  We got water from neighboring villages and transported them in barrels to the lands. We slept in a house located on the property. Houses or homes vary at the lands, from a traditional house to a regular housing structure. I got the opportunity to cook in a Batswana traditional kitchen, see a goat slaughtered, and to cook the meat afterwards.

On New Years, I attended a party on neighbor’s lands. There was a DJ, food, a bomb fire, and lots of dancing. At midnight we shot fireworks and danced the night away.

The following days we visited the local villages, gathered more waters, and watch the local choirs. We drove around to the various choirs presenting the village. The choirs normally set themselves up

I enjoyed my time at the lands. At the end of the day it gave me perspective about the Batswana people.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Internet



Happy New Year Everyone, I thought I start the New Year with a tech related post.
-Finda

I was always taught to be mindful and remember people who have slow internet connections, but it seems that mentality has gone our the door for many companies.


It is sad, but it provides many opportunities to those who are mindful of their users. Facebook is a great example of providing the same internet experience anywhere you go. While I may struggle to access my email, Facebook is probably the most accessible site since I have been here.

While I may encounter some soft errors, the overall functionality is still there. The interface is still the same and I am able to upload photo’s faster then I can on my blog.

As developing countries become more connected via internet, companies need to be mindful of internet speeds. Success comes when you can accommodate a variety of audiences.

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