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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Don’t Go Outside!

Don't Go Outside!
The Spring season is in full swing in Botswana. The season is
characterized by dramatic temperature changes and windy weather (with
a about 2 very short rain showers thrown in as well). The gusty winds
kick-up the sand into big clouds that make walking into and out of the
village pretty miserable because you get covered in a layer of dust
and sand for the rest of the day.
Aside from the weather, Hayley and I have been busy with projects and
planning a trip for ourselves and my sister and her husband when they
come to visit Southern Africa during their honeymoon! We have plans to
see Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, experience an over night camping
safari in Chobe National Park, and also to spend some time in South
Africa swimming with Great White Sharks, exploring Table Mountain, and
enjoying some relaxing beach time! After a little over 1-yr in
Botswana, we have not really taken much time to travel because: 1) we
have been saving our money for epic trips like the one described
above, and 2) travel in Botswana without a private vehicle is pretty
painful given the effort it takes to travel out of our area of
Botswana via public transportation (the buses are very good at
sticking to their schedule and charging American's the standard rates,
but the long distances that have to be traveled in packed buses and
mini-vans is rough, to say the least!).
These next few months mark the end of the school year, and that means
the students at my school have been gearing up for final exams since
the beginning of the semester. A group of college-aged volunteers
(Eduvolunteers is the name of their group), that is funded by the
Botswana Ministry of Education, has visited my school on multiple
occasions because after their first visit they discovered that many
students are over one full year behind in their course work. So the
volunteers are back for a thirst visit to continue offering their
tutoring services for a few days.
As has been stated in the past, the reason for the students being so
far behind in their course work is the teachers' Industrial Action"
that ended just before Hayley and I arrived in Botswana in September
2012. The Industrial Action is a polite term for the teachers' strike
that left the students without teachers for much of the last half of
the school year. And even once the strike ended, it has been a slow
process of getting teachers back into the habit of teaching their
classes and offering the students feedback on their work in a timely
Even amongst these hardships, we have still met many inspirational and
hardworking individual professionals and students in Botswana that are
also aware of these shortcomings and are working tirelessly to mend
them! It is because of these friends and colleagues that we continue
to find the support and energy to keep up with our lives as Peace
Corps Volunteers!
Lastly, my Birthday came and went earlier this month and, along with
the many packages we received (Tami & Mitch, Gma/Gpa Holthus, Gma/Gpa
Johnson, Dad Stolzle, Gma and Mom Knopick, Sister and
Bro-in-Law-To-Be) Hayley and I celebrated together in our village with
the exploration of a part of the village we had not yet seen. We also
made cake and other special foods from the packages we received, and
watched lots and lots of movies and TV shows! It was a fun and
relaxing day to see a little more of our home village and also enjoy
the tastes and entrainments of our home culture in the US. Thank to
everyone that send their love through packages, cards, and facebook!

In an attempt to keep these blog updates shorter and more readable, I
will stop here. But expect more updates soon!

- Michael