"COMING TOGETHER IS A BEGINNING,
KEEPING TOGETHER IS PROGRESS,
WORKING TOGETHER IS SUCCESS!" H. Ford
They call us BOTS 11 because we are the 11th group of volunteers coming into Botswana. I like the name, and I don't think other countries would flow like BOTS does, i.e. Thai 37, eh, doesn't flow like Bots 11 does, but boy would I still love to be in Thailand, or at least have some Pad Thai right now. My language teacher keeps reminding me not to put an Asian twang to Setswana, but I will never give up my Asian soul, and that is not understood here. It's been 3 weeks since I have left home, and over 2 weeks in Botswana. It's funny when you put an American in another country, or situation like let's say, the Peace Corps, strange things start to happen, and you start to wonder what it's all about. It's almost like living on Mars!
If you think about it, in the past 20 years, socialization has changed dramatically, and people are trying to make sense of a world that makes no sense, especially to those in third world countries. As Americans, we have fully jumped on the tech bandwagon, we multi-task, take power naps, we power train, gulp down power drinks, and have power agenda's. It's excessive, it's fun, it's exciting, but something is also lost and misunderstood. For the people in Botswana, family is family, extended family come in and out of the home, most homes don't have our technology, they still take bucket baths, eat with their hands, they pray for rain in the Ktotla and it comes, weddings include everyone---even the white stranger, and the cows and donkeys that meander the streets may even be welcome in the Internet Cafe's. Now that makes for an interesting society! Seriously, when donkeys start emailing each other, we know we're in big trouble! I've already realized the things that I need to give up, things I need to put more effort into, and to not expect things to come at my feet. I suspect that there will be many tough lessons along the way.
So, back to living on Mars---yesterday we had a diversity group where we discussed topics of being older, younger, married, abused, vegetarian, and a variety of other topics. Everyone talked about the positive and negative points, and at the end, we formed a trust circle and had to step in the middle if we answered yes to a number of personal questions. We did not strip and act like monkeys, nor did we break out in dance, but what did happen was it brought tears to some, reluctance to others, and still, we all learned a little more about each other. In the end, whether we feel we are living on Mars or not, there is a realization that we all don't have to be best friends, nor hang with those we have little in common with. The lesson learned is that we all will need each other in one form or another, and that our experiences will make us all stronger as we go out to try and meet our expectations at our sites, or just try to cope with everyday living that is different from our own. Wouldn't it be fun to revert back to our primal forms and restart a new creation to make things work well for our service here. I won't be surprised if that doesn't happen in some form, but for now, by accepting our differences and working together, maybe one day we'll feel close enough to take it all off and act like monkeys---I wonder what people on Mars would think of that!