79. That is the number of days I have left in Botswana.
I recently attended my Close of Service Conference with the rest of my group, Bots10. We went to a lodge in Nata, up in the North Eastern part of the country. We stayed at a lodge near the bird sanctuary and salt pans. A lot of the conference was about the paper work and practical things that we need to do before we close our service in May. Another major component of the conference was reflecting on our time here and planning for the emotional and psychological aspects of returning to the U.S. I really appreciated that we were given time to reflect and prepare.
The highlight of COS conference for me was our group dinner on the pans. We spent time telling funny and sentimental stories from the course of our time here together and spoke about each of the 17 Bots10 members who early terminated their service over the course of the past couple of years. There are 23 of us left!
What will the next 79 days look like for me? Well, at the end of this week I will be part of my third GLOW camp to empower young girls in my district that will take place in a village right next to mine and include 10 girls from the junior school in my village and 20 other girls from around the district. Then at the end of this month I will be traveling up north to an event that two of my PCV friends have been planning, a Half Martathon/5k and Health Expo. I will be run/walking the 5k and painting children's faces at the Health Expo following the run. Other than this, I will be focusing on wrapping up projects in my village, saying good byes, medical appointments,and finishing reporting and paper work that I need to do before I finish my service. I have a feeling this is all going to pass by quickly.
People keep asking me what I'm most excited about. Really, I'm proud of myself for making it to this point and I'm looking forward to having completed my service and being able to say "YES, I DID IT!". Being a PCV was a dream of mine since I was 14, and it is pretty cool that I've been able to follow my dream and see it through. There have been some tough moments, I had many opportunities to leave. I'm glad I didn't. I'm also of course looking forward to seeing my family and friends very much. When I picture myself seeing my family for the first time I get tearful. I haven't seen them at all during my service so it has been a very long time. I'm also looking forward to things like the mountains and lakes of Maine, food I miss, and graduate school.
At the same time, there are things I will miss about being here, and I think it may be hard for people at home to understand that at times, which worries me. I will miss the quiet. Life here is slow and quiet, and sometimes that can be difficult, but overall, I have come to appreciate that. I worry that I will feel overwhelmed at times in America by things like busy streets, large stores, and the general fast pace of life. I will also miss people here. I will miss friends I work with and the children in my village. It will be strange to leave them because I will most likely never see them again. When I left America, I at least could be pretty certain that I would see people again when I got back home, but that is not the case for people I've met here ( with the exception of volunteer friends). I've also become more accustomed to being alone. Before I came here I was on the go always and had a really hard time being by myself. My experience here has changed me because I've had to get so used to being alone. I worry that people won't understand when I want alone time sometimes when I get home. I will also missing being around my volunteer friends here who get what it is like. Going back to the U.S. will certainly be an adjustment.
This is a bittersweet time!