Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So What Exactly Will You Be Doing?

I will preface this post by letting everyone know that the real answer to most of these question is "it depends."

I have had lots of questions about my service and the Peace Corps over the last couple of months, so here is my best attempt to answer the most common ones.

Where are you going?
I will be living in Botswana.

Where is Botswana?
It is located in southern Africa and borders South Africa to the north. Still having trouble? Here is a link to several maps.

How long will you be over there?
A Peace Corps tour is 27 months. I have about 8-10 weeks of training and then 2 years at my site.

Wow, that's a really long time, will you get to come home at all?
It depends. I do get vacation days, but all travel is on my own dime. Tickets back to the US are expensive...

Where will you live in Botswana?
I don't really have an answer for this one. When I get to Botswana I will be in training. Once I complete the training, I will be assigned to a permanent site. I won't know this until June.

Will you live in a hut / house/ big city/ small village/ have running water/ have electricity / ect...?
It depends because I wont know my permanent site and I will not know my living conditions until I am placed. Don't worry mom, it will be safe and I will have a roof over my head. I am not going camping or living out of a tent for the next two years.

How long is the flight?
I fly from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa. It is around 15-16 hours. I am get stir crazy just thinking about it

What language do they speak there and will you have to learn it?
While English is the official language of Botswana, main language is Setswana and part of my training will be intensive language courses. (Here is a YouTube clip of a Peace Corps volunteer giving a speech about HIV/AIDS in Setswana). Invariably, someone who asks this questions then starts making clicking sounds and asks if I will have to click. While there are some languages that feature a "click" in southern Africa, Setswana is not one (to my knowledge). Okay, so here is where I say that I should have paid more attention with my language lessons. There is a click in Setswana. It further goes to show that I really do not know that much. Every day is going to be a learning experience and I am looking forward to it.

What will you be doing there?
My program is HIV/AIDS Capacity Building and job title is an NGO Capacity Builder.

What does that mean?
My limited understanding of this is that I will be placed with an NGO (Non-governmental organization) to help the organization with HIV prevention and with their overall operations (maybe). I have several mandates and a pretty lengthy job description, but again, everything depends on where I am placed and with what organization. I will have to wait until after training to find out more.

Do they have Internet / Phones / Mail there?
Yes, yes, and yes. You will be able to reach me but I can't guarantee it will be as often as now in the US. I will have some access to the Internet, but this varies. Some volunteers there now have daily access and some have to travel long distances to get Internet. I will most likely have a phone as well but I won't know until I get there and I have no idea about signal or how expensive it will be to talk. I will have a mailing address. I will post mailing instructions on this blog a few days before I leave. Send me something. Seriously.


The interesting part will be to look back at my answers several months from now and see how right (or more likely, wrong) I am. How do you really describe and answer questions about an experience that you have yet to have? I am trying my best to not have any expectations going into this and to just enjoy things as I experience them. Everything works out in the end.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Peace Corps Week

March 1-7 is Peace Corps Week. On March 1, 1961 the Peace Corps was founded. Happy 49th!

Find out more here: http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.returned.thirdgoal