I have officially two weeks left in the United States, then I high tail it outta here to Botswana, Africa. I have a suspicion that America is pissed at me for jumping ship and might be punishing me with earthquakes and hurricanes. Due to old Irene our house is still out of electricity, but luckily I have the keys to friends’ houses and my good friends down at Sprout who are kind enough to let me plug in. Even though it is slightly obnoxious to not be able to sit in my house reading my morning news, checking the Peace Corps blogs, and drinking my own coffee, it’s a reminder of all the comforts and loved ones that I will be leaving here in Richmond. Botswana is going to be an amazing adventure, I am so excited, but it is also a scary thought. Although I have always dreamed of working for the Peace Corps, I’ve never done anything like this before, not even close. I’ve never moved further than 2 hours from my family and friends. I’ve never lived without “first world” comforts like WiFi, gourmet restaurants, really good coffee, shopping malls, organic grocery stores, happy hours with delicious beers & friends, television, easy transportation, smart phones, gyms, people who speak English, movie theatres… well the list goes on.
Someone once asked me if I were sent back in time to the Middle Ages, what could I possibly teach anyone who lives there? If you really, really think about it, I can’t teach them much. All of my knowledge, skills, and resources, are dependent on some sort of technology. Even if I were to try to explain concepts like, disease cause bacterias or medicines, how could I explain that? All I know is that doctors have discovered that some bacteria is bad, and they created medicines and soaps to help the problem. But I can’t even make soap!
When I come back from Africa, if I accomplish anything, I want to be able to teach these people something. I want to take the knowledge that I got from my fancy college degree, job experience, and life experience, and do something actually useful with it! Also, ( this seems selfish to me) I want to learn from them, I want to learn everything I possibly can from them. The Batswana people have taken what resources they have, a landlocked, mostly arid desert region of 1.8 million people, and are now a middle income country with high literacy rate and the longest life expectancy in Africa. Unlike America (and most other late developing countries) the culture and knowledge of indigenous people was not discarded or discredited as backwards. The traditions of the Khalari people are valued, and still common practice. Why? Because this knowledge was developed over centuries and it works. That is the knowledge I want, how to make crops grow in the desert, how to birth babies in a straw hut, how to make my own clothes, but mostly I want to learn the art of sitting still. I want to sit, look around and soak up the scenery for hours, and not worry about a single to do list, ever.
But right now I’m going to enjoy this free range roast beef sandwich and drink a local craft beer.
Love you lots,