Every year at this time PC Botswana holds regional meetings. Volunteers who live in the same general region of the country get together mostly to discuss how things are going at site and get to know other volunteers in our region .My regional meeting was in Kanye, which is the village that I had pre-service training in (and where I stayed with my host family when I first arrived in Botswana). It was nice to get to know some of the Bots11 volunteers better because I didn't really know most of them and also to see the volunteers I already knew and don't get to see often. The Bots11 volunteers arrived here about 5 months after my group arrived here so it was also interesting to listen to their perspectives and remember how I felt 5 months ago and reflect on how different that is from how I feel now. I remember the Bots9 volunteers telling my group that around the year mark things just clicked for them, and now that is how I am feeling. It seems strange to now be at this point. It was also interesting to return to the village that I trained in for the first time in about 9 months. I surprised my host family with a visit because my host sisters had been texting me since I first arrived at site to tell me that if I ever was near Kanye that I was welcome to visit. I was a little worried that they wouldn't be home, but when I arrived my youngest host sister was in the yard cooking in the outdoor kitchen and stopped what she was doing and ran over to hug me. She went and got my host mother, who literally hugged me so hard that she picked me up! My other two host sisters unfortunately were not home, but it was really great to see my host mother and youngest host sister ,Bokomoso. It is strange to see both how much can stay the same and how much can change in just 9 months. In many ways, it felt like I had never left my host family when I was visiting with them because I felt very comfortable around them. It actually kind of surprised me just how comfortable it was being there because I had been a little nervous about seeing them for the first time in so long. I found out that Bokomoso is now in Form 4 at Senior Secondary School, which is often very difficult for many students to get to go to here so this is wonderful news. My host mother also knows more English than she knew when I lived with my host family. During homestay, my host mother was always very kind to me, but communication was difficult. We struggled through most conversations with me trying to use setswana, her not knowing any English, and most of the time my host sisters ended up helping with translating. This time I still tried my best to use setswana, but my host mother was using English too! She made some jokes about my setswana not being that much better than it was when I lived with them, and I actually understood her joking, and she understood mine! It was great! I knew that she had been trying to learn some English during the time that I lived in Kanye because she and my host sisters would ask me questions now and then while I asked them questions about setswana, but it was so nice to have a conversation that was more of a balance of both of us trying to use each others' languages rather than us both needing so much translation.
I wish I could better describe how I feel here these days. The best way I can describe it is that I've accepted my life here for what it is. This doesn't mean that I agree with everything that happens or that every day feels fulfilling and is all butterflies and rainbows, but I guess what I mean is that I'm happy here despite the frustrations. Things just sort of are what they are, and I feel so much more at ease and comfortable. When people talked about feeling like this before I got to this point, I didn't get it and kind of thought they may have just been saying it would happen for me to make me feel better.To any future volunteers or volunteers who arrived here after me, I swear that now that I am reaching my 11 month in Bots, things really do feel different in a good way.