(No, not really)
November 8, Day 465
Up early, as usual. Get my act together. Take a cold shower and get dressed.
Walk to breakfast. It’s our last day of training today. I notice everyone is pretty slow moving, too.
Our first session starts at 8 am, and it’s all about “What’s next after Peace Corps.” I admit that I haven’t done a lot of planning for what’s next after my service.
I joined the Peace Corps because I felt a strong calling to serve. I spent day after day sitting with white-collar professionals or talking to CEOs and never felt like I fit in. I don’t care who has a summer house where, or what fancy restaurant you went to last night. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of a lifestyle, I just knew it wasn’t for me.
Ultimately I became very aware that I was not living in reality. Being surrounded by wealthy people is not who I am and it’s not where I come from.
My people are the people on the ground, living one day to the next. People who know the struggle to get by and live in realistic conditions, since most of the people in the world are not wealthy and don’t have summer vacation homes.
I am now with my people, and I feel more alive than ever.
Another reason I joined the Peace Corps is because I didn’t know what my voice was in media. I know I want to work in media after my service, but I didn’t know what I had to offer or on what platform that voice would be. My intuition told me that I would find my voice here.
And I did! I have discovered my love for writing here, and hope to pursue working as a journalist or writer after my service.
I always wrote professionally when I worked in media before. I wrote several articles a day for CNBC.com. But, I never realized how much I love and miss it until I didn’t have it anymore.
So, the only thing I know about life after service is that I plan to move to Seattle to be with Colden and work as a writer. What I will be writing about or how that will happen, I have no idea!
Sit through the session about life after Peace Corps. Monica tells us that the reason the man from the man from PEPFAR had a black eye yesterday is because a few days ago, five men broke into his house. They had weapons and tied him up, beat him up and robbed his house.
Apparently he had an electric fence surrounding his house, and the light on the fence indicated it was on and working. However, it was not.
This man was so dedicated to the Peace Corps that he came and gave us his presentation just days after this event occurred.
She then asks us to stand up if we plan to go to grad school after our service, and most people stand up. She then asks us to stand up if we plan to get a job. I find that only a few people stand up for that one, including myself.
I feel pretty sick today. I have a bad stomach pains and I think it was from the Chinese food last night. I keep having hot and cold flashes and I feel terrible.
Next we go to a room with the other volunteers in our sector to talk about our work plans for next year.
We decide that we would rather have a group discussion instead. After all, we are all working in similar offices and never have a chance to come together and discuss our experiences in one room. Our program manager allows that to happen, so we sit and talk for an hour.
Tea break. I can’t express to you how much I love tea time. God bless the British for introducing this to the world.
After tea, we go upstairs for a discussion with our medical team. My stomach is killing me. I feel terrible!
Sign the forms. Talk the talk.
I pull the doctor aside and tell him that my stomach is hurting. He agrees to send Pepto to me from the office down the street.
Go to lunch. Chat with several volunteers. It’s great to catch up with everyone.
Go back upstairs for our closing ceremony. Volunteers here work in one of four groups: Life Skills (people who work in schools), CHT/DHMT (people who work in clinics/hospitals), CSCB (people who work with NGOs) and LGCB (my group, the people who work in government offices).
Each group goes on stage, and their program managers hand them a piece of paper with five qualities about that person written on them.
My paper says I am resourceful, enthusiastic, integrated, hard working and mature.
We finish for the day.
Woo hoo! I have officially survived mid-service training!!
Go back to my room because I’m waiting on that medicine from the doctor. A bunch of bags of medicine are brought over, but there’s nothing for me.
They forgot about me. I’m mad. But I move on with life and decide to just deal with it.
Walk over to the mall and do some grocery shopping to pick up hard to find ingredients that I can’t find in my village. I plan to host a Thanksgiving dinner at my house next week, and I need to find things like celery and cranberries.
Walk to the grocery store and peruse the shelves and look longingly at all the things I can’t afford to buy. I find my celery and some dried cranberries. I even find American yellow mustard! Though, American mustard is not spicy mustard. But I’ll take it.
As I walk down one of the aisles, I make eye contact with a woman and greet her. She locks eyes with me as if she knows me, but I keep walking.
She walks up to me.
“Abbie?! Is that you?!” she says.
“Yes! I am Abbie. Have we met?” I ask.
“My name is Gontse, I follow your blog on Facebook and I recognize you from your picture,” she replies.
Oh my! Never in my wildest dreams would I expect that someone would recognize me from this blog! Wow, I feel like such a celebrity right now.
We stand there in the aisle of the grocery store and talk for a long time. She tells me she has a cute little maltese dog and loves my relationships with the dogs in the village. I am so flattered! We talk about dogs, living in Botswana, Peace Corps and various other things.
What a treat!
I decide to walk over to Linga Longa and celebrate my close of mid-service with my last mojito and quesadilla from there.
I sit down, and once again see a large group of volunteers at a nearby table. But I’m happy to sit alone and celebrate with my delicious mojito. It looks like it might even rain soon.
There is a group of professionals having happy hour at a nearby table and I find them fascinating. They are all well dressed, which tells me that they have office jobs and make a decent salary. It’s not often that you see people going for happy hour! Gaborone is certainly a different world.
They’re all talking about what they are looking for in men and women. Going for parties. They all speak English. I could be in new york city at a lounge right now from this scene.
Finish my dinner and decide to walk back to my room. Rachel left early for her vacation, so I have the room to myself tonight.
I really feel sick now. I feel horrible. I think I should stay in and go to bed early because I have a long day of travel tomorrow.
Talk to Colden for a bit. Pack up my things.
Take a nice, long, hot shower.
Schedule a taxi to pick me up tomorrow morning and take me to the bus rank.
Go to bed.