Dear Meredyth,

Bots 11 (my Peace Corps group) just finished our Mid-service training. I’m not sure you would really call it a productive “training”. It was more of a way for PC staff to make sure we were all still alive and no one had gone AWOL, which is something a lot of us would love to do. The intention of MST is for Volunteers to reflect on our first year of service, share experiences, challenges, best practices and plan for the year ahead. I’ll say this intention was fulfilled, if you think that getting drunk, weird and swimming n the hotel’s pool a productive exchanges.So in summary, it was an overall fun time.

Reaching MST is a big milestone for our group, its odd to think that we’re more than halfway through our service and we’ve only lost three volunteers! That’s actually incredibly rare to have lost so few. PC staff never got tired of congratulating us on the “commitment” and “perseverance” of our group. This is where I think they’re puling the wool over their eyes. We are not still here because Botswana is such a wonderful place to be in or our work here is incredibly rewarding. We are a tight group, everyone has someone to lean on anytime. Also; we are stubborn as hell, we refuse to “let Botswana beat us”. The theme of the week was “winning Peace Corps.”

The reality is that a lot of us are feeling down, real down. I felt particularly low when we were “reflecting on our accomplishments” over the year. Some of my best friends were coming to MST straight from their GLOW camp, they were still riding a sort of super productive high from their week with the girls. Each of them were really happy and looking forward to the next year in Botswana.

I on the other hand am feeling particularly bitter about Bots and Peace Corps really. I don’t feel like my work is making a great impact. I don’t think I am “building capacity”. I have no way to know if I have helped the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I have not made real friends with any Batswana, nor do I have an overwhelming desire to keep trying. I have zero patience for the laziness and apathy of so many people here. Worst of all I keep making these awful generalizations and saying things like, “these people.”

One week from today I will be in America. I cannot believe it. I don’t know how to be properly excited about it because it seems to surreal. It’s so hard to imagine how happy I will be when I see everyone I love so much and have missed for so long!

It will be absolutely perfect to be in a kitchen with you again!

all my love,

Julia

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