My bags are packed. My goodbyes have been said. All that’s left is to quiet my anxious mind. Have I forgotten anything? Will I be able to carry the 80 + lbs of belongings I’ve chosen to accompany me for the next two years? Have I forgotten any of the paperwork?
The questions are almost (but not quite) enough to keep my mind off this anniversary. I am writing this a few miles from 'ground zero' and am about to go into the city with my son and his family to attend a matinee of "The Lion King." First we will stand quietly in the kitchen at 8:45 am while New York marks the occasion with somber tributes and massive security measures. Then we will take our next generation to a celebration of life through song and dance.
Two days from now the Peace Corps will fly me to Botswana to work as a School Community Liaison. For the first two months I will live with a family and study Setswana, the local language. There is nothing to compare this to. Not the first day of kindergarten, when someone held my hand as I crossed the threshold of the classroom. Not the first day of college when the excitement of leaving home overcame the fact that I did not know a single person there. Not even the day forty years ago, when I crossed the border to Canada, not knowing when or if, I would return to the United States.
This move is as far outside my comfort zone as I am ever likely to be. Africa was not on my radar screen. When I applied to the Peace Corps (over a year ago) I was nominated to train teachers in Eastern Europe. Life has a way of making unexpected turns, and the ‘invitation’ to Botswana was one of them. I walked in circles on my deck the night I arrived home to find the package from the Peace Corps. It was a warm May night, the peepers were carousing in the woods, the moon was slipping in and out of the clouds, and I was thinking “Botswana? Where is that? I know it’s Africa, but I’m not sure exactly where in Africa.” As I circled in the night air, breathing deeply, I could feel myself saying ‘yes.’ This was not on my radar screen, but this is where I’m going.
We’ve been told we will not have internet connection for the next five weeks. What we will have is 10-hour days, 6 days a week, of intensive training. “On Sunday you will want to wash your clothes,” a fellow PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer—get used to acronyms, that’s the language of Peace Corps) told me. Those of you who know me will smile at that—laundry on Sunday sounds just fine. . .
I have been blessed to be part of an amazing writing group: The Great Darkness (there’s an explanation for the name and it’s not at all ‘dark’) These people welcomed me into their fold, have written with me every Wednesday night for the past six years, and have sent me off with enough love and support to keep me upright for the duration of my stay.
This blog is dedicated to them: Pat, Marianne, Edie, Alan, Jennifer, Jacqueline, Jeanne, Lisa, Marion, and the one who started it all: Patricia.
Stay tuned—I will check in through this blog as often as I can. Love to all.