The last time I wrote was just after the holidays, and so much has happened since then. After spending more than a month in my village without leaving other than to go get groceries a couple of times, I went to the capital for a meeting with the other members of the Peer Support and Diversity Network. (PSDN). It was a time for us to train the newest members from the Bots12 group and to discuss future planning for the group. For me, this meeting was quite bittersweet because it was the time for myself and the other Bots10s in the group to hand over the majority of our responsibilities to the newer members and to step back. It was also a really fun time because it isn't often that we all get to spend time together. I was even able to have an early birthday celebration with my PSDN friends and other close friends who live near the capital.
Following my meetings, I used some of the many leave days I had left over to travel around Botswana a bit and to go to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. I spent two days in a PCV friend's village, Kalamare, which is in the North Eastern portion of Botswana. Her home was very welcoming and relaxing, and it was a lot of fun just getting to catch up on life, walk around her village, see her garden and a village garden, and meeting some of her friends there. We spent my first night there teaching a young neighbor friend of hers how to make tacos! It was so much fun ,and my friend Susan makes amazing salsa!
After visiting Kalamare, I then headed further north to Francistown where I celebrated my actual birthday by using fast internet at a cafe and having a blueberry milkshake ( Mainer style) and met up with a PCV there for some Indian food as well. The next day I arrived in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe where I spent one night at a backpackers lodge called Shoe Strings, which I highly recommend. It was only $11 dollars to stay there, and the food was very good! I spent my day there going to see the falls, which were incredible and going to the open craft market. I traded a Boston Celtics T-shirt and a Patriot's hoodie for some beautiful craft items! I can't wait to show and give some of the awesome art I found to family and friends when I get home! I also found this food place that had pizza and real ice cream in one location, which was a bonus. Something really cool about staying at backpackers is getting to meet interesting people from all over the world. I spent my time seeing the falls with a young woman around my age who was from the Netherlands and was traveling after her medical school internship in South Africa. I ate pizza for lunch with a guy from Japan who was a wonderful photographer. I spent time hanging out at the backpacker's bar in the evening with three friends from Australia who were traveling around Africa together. It makes the world feel smaller.
I ended my birthday week travels by making one of my dreams come true: I saw elephants! On my way back down from Vic. Falls, I met up with a friend in Kasane for lunch with she and a friend from her village, and it was really great to catch up. Then I went on a game drive in Chobe! The main reason why I wanted to go on this game drive was to see elephants because I had never seen one before. I was so happy when the very first animals we saw upon entering the park were elephants in the distance! The guide then drove us closer to them so we could get a better look. It was amazing how close to them we were able to get! I saw a couple hundred elephants that day!I wish I could do a better job of describing how incredible of an experience that was. That night I spent time hanging out with my friend who lives in Kasane and cooking dinner with him, which was also fun.
Something also pretty major that has happened in my life recently is that I was accepted to some of my top choice graduate programs, and I made a decision about which one I will be attending! I was lucky to receive a really great merit scholarship to the University of Denver, and it has a very strong M.S.W. program , so I will be going there starting in July of this year! I will be going home to Maine to live with my family before beginning my program. I'm of course a little nervous because I've never even been to Denver before, but I've only heard great things about Denver and about DU. I'm also looking forward to living near mountains again!There will be snow!!!
For now, I'm very focused on finishing up my projects and making sure my students and the teachers I work with feel confident in taking them over. I've seen that they are capable because when I've handed responsibility over to them, they have done an amazing job. I think now I just need to help them believe in themselves a bit more and to see just how awesome they are.
Well,that's it for now!