Dear Meredyth,
I’m finally home from In Service Training! Wooooooo!! Well kinda home, but I will explain. I left my village Jan 22nd to go to Gaborone for IST for two weeks. IST is a big landmark in the Peace Corps, we all made itover the huge slumping hardtime of “community assessment phase” i.e. Lockdown, a three month period during which PCVs are not supposed to leave their village except for grocery shopping. Lockdown is a particularly hard time for PCVs, also a time when many people decide this is not for them and go home to America. I have heard from past groups that a lot of people show up to the lodge for IST with all their bags packed, I was really afraid of this happening to our group. Our group is exceptional. Sometimes certain people really grind my nerves but overall, we are a tight knit bunch, the thought of anyone leaving makes me sad. Well guess what! We are all still here, we are the first group in PC Botswana (since reopening in 1997) that no one has left before or during IST! Well, my good friend Celia had to return to Boston to deal with the passing of her Father but she is coming back next week.
It was really really wonderful to see everyone at IST but I admit it was during this week that I felt the closest to going home. I don’t have the most solid of reasons for this, and I knew that I wouldn’t, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. I think it had a lot to do with the comfort hat I get from being with my friends here while at the same time it made me long for my friends and family back home even more. I also knew that at the end of the week I would go home alone, I would go to the place that’s not my real home, the small concrete house in the middle of a small sandy village in Africa.
Well as it happens each day at IST made me long for my little house more and more. The sessions we long and tedious, the pool was “broken”, the food was setswana food and giving me stomach pains and the company gets overwhelming (as Americans are in large groups). By the end of IST i was slightly dreding the extra two day STEPS films training I had signed up for with my counterpart. The films are excellent, they are all written, filmed, and produced in Africa by Africans, I’m really excited to start doing these screenings in my village. BUT it was the straw that broke the camels’ back. I wanted home!!
Finally last night, after a four hour trip (which should’ve only been 1 1/2 but my driver had to make 10 stops to check on his various friends and run errands) I was home. I was exhausted, sweaty and starving, but at least I was home. While I put away my grocerires and piled my dirty clothes for washing (that is for tomorrow) while listening to Ryan Adams, I was content to be here, in the quiet peace of my house in my little village in Africa.
I still miss you and everyone a lot, but I am home, maybe just for a little while.
Love Julia