I woke up this morning and found that in the night, my blanket had slipped off my feet; and the mosquitos on which I've been waging war in our room had a FEAST. I have like seven bites all over the tops of my feet and ankles. The travel doctor I went to told me I wouldn't need malaria pills for this southern region of Botswana, but you still hate to see that. While the bites itch like crazy, I'm hoping it's not more than that!
Anyways, I got a late start to the day today after our late nights this weekend. I woke up and made it just in time to tutor my first student (he's OBSESSED with Marvel and so we're practicing his writing skills by designing a superhero), edited the Mega Bowl photos so I could show them at a MaP Journalists meeting, and went to our Cultural Literacy class. During today's lesson, we talked about the entire college application process, and I hope it made more sense this time—as opposed to the huge Lower 6 discussion we led on the same topic last week—since the two students were able to ask more questions. While I think we six interns still did too much in terms of throwing any and all information at them (instead of taking the time to figure out what they specifically need to know and tailoring the lesson to their questions and interests), I'm really hoping that in the future we'll collectively speak less and listen more in order to be most effective and supportive!
Throughout the morning and afternoon, we also had a series of power outages. They made wifi nonexistent, which was the most inconvenient part, since we couldn't send any emails or really get any work done without it. One other TERRIFYING rumor that came up had to do with water—I'm not sure who told us this, but someone said that due to water shortages in southern Botswana, our supply would be cut off between 7am-7pm daily. There is absolutely nothing to back this up, and even TG hadn't heard of it, so I'm assuming it's fine. But I can't imagine what it would be like to not be able to take a drink from a water fountain, or heat up water for oatmeal, or shower after a run or service trip, or how the school would even function in terms of the hundreds of kids who would need to use a restroom. So PRAYING that this is all just a joke some cruel soul made up to scare us haha because it's working.
Anyways, I had a quick lunch of rice (skipped the beef) and salad with two of my favorite TAs, quickly swung by MaP Journalists where I received a new assignment to write up/photograph service programs for the Botswana Advertiser, and then headed to the bus for Naledi Feeding. Phenyo, the SPE TA, had asked if I could photograph and film it for a report he's writing about the program. While I was sad to have to miss African Philosophy, which was discussing Gender and the Patriarchy, I so enjoyed getting a chance to get off-campus and see more of life in Gabs. Naledi is a neighborhood in the city, and the service program involves kids delivering food to eighteen families living in abject poverty, mostly with disabled or elderly family members.
One cute moment took place on the bus. It was one of the first times that I felt a bit out of place during my stay so far, since all the kids had their favorite seats and were chatting together and maybe felt that Phenyo's and my presences were invasive, since his job was to evaluate the effectiveness of their work. Anyways, as I sat looking out the window, I overheard the most endearing conversation between three boys in front of me. They were maybe Form 3 or 4, so pretty young, and each consulting the others about how to talk to girls. The highlight for me went a bit like this:
- "You have to get the conversation started and make her think you're cool, and then after half an hour make sure she's the one talking."
- "But what do I say for half an hour? How will I know when it's been half an hour? And how do I make it a natural transition? Do I just say, 'Okay, I talked, it's your turn now'?"
- "Eesh, I can't do this."
It was super clear that the boys really cared about whichever girls they were talking about; and while I'm not very confident about their self-confidence and flirtation abilities, eavesdropping on them was very sweet.
I'll let the photos of Naledi speak for themselves here. I'm really happy with how some of them turned out:
Phenyo interviewed the recipients of the food and found that while they aren't getting precisely what they need (since they all get the same food drop-off), the program is helping them immeasurably and they're all quite grateful. One woman we met with was blind, one woman couldn't walk, one family had a disabled boy, and a few had many children, etc., which made it difficult for all to find work and support themselves and their loved ones. I'm really happy to have had a chance to accompany the kids on this trip, even though I was acutely aware that as the only white-looking person, I was entering people's homes to photograph their lives without being able to properly speak their language and ask permission. Despite fears of voyeurism and privilege in my role, I hold hope that I could be helping the program and residents of Naledi in some way through the interviews I recorded and photographs documenting the service work.
After returning to campus, I went for a quick run around the outer perimeter of the school. It's literally running along an electric fence, which kind of freaks me out; and it's harder to set mental goals to keep running and to keep track of how far I've gone, but it's a nice path. One thing I'm always uncertain about is the acceptability of wearing shorts while running. Most female students wear leggings, but Heba and I can't figure out if it's because it's winter and they're cold or because longer pants are more appropriate. Regardless, I wore shorts this time, showered (and worried more about the possibility of losing our access to running water), had a dinner of another chicken nugget-like cutlet and spicy pasta, and then returned to my room for the night to sort through and edit all the photos and videos for a meeting with Phenyo tomorrow.
One final adventure of the night involved FINALLY making the grilled cheese sandwich I've been craving for the past two weeks! Heba brought me back two slices of bread when she finished duty at the girls' boarding house, and I slapped two slices of strangely textured cheddar cheese between them and threw it all into the annex microwave oven. A few minutes later and viola! A subpar—yet somehow quite satisfying—grilled cheese/late night snack. :)
Night for now!