San Bushmen

Life has been falling into a bit of a routine lately so there’s been not much to report. I wake up, go to work, play with the kids during my lunch hour, and then go home and, more often then not, work on knitting.

Working at the Baylor Clinic is an interesting experience. I spent the first two weeks doing data entry so that we could have the right statistics for various abstracts we were writing. (I admit that I did get a bit of a thrill seeing my name on such a professional paper.) Now I’ve gone a step past that. Collaborating with one of my co-workers, we’ve written an actual article that will soon be published in the UB/UNICEF book. The article revolves around a volunteer program here called “The Morning Play Group.”

“The Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence has identified a need among its patients for physical, emotional, and educational stimulation during extended waiting times at the clinic. In 2008, it established the Morning Play Group to promote healthy child development for HIV-positive children by creating opportunities for them to interact with their peers and improve their social skills through recreational and educational interventions, ultimately leading to improved clinical and mental health outcomes as well as a healthy transition into adolescence. Volunteers facilitate activities including structured play, reading, arts and crafts, and hygiene promotion.”

I’m slowly getting used to the culture here. Everyone is so laid back and relaxed! There is no rush to get work done or get anything done for that matter. I walk down the street and have people calling out greetings to me everywhere. (That might simply be because white + foreigner = money bags.) Still, at work there always seem to be only about three or four people who are working while everyone else is checking facebook or something along those lines. I also learned that promotion here isn’t based on achievements but more regarding how long you’ve managed to stay with the place so there’s not necessarily any incentive to do well.

Gaborone is a relationship based culture, so you have to be careful about how you talk to everyone. I’m very blunt and tend to get right to the point when I need to talk to someone about a certain matter. Here, I’m slowly learning how to talk the person up first before I get to the heart of the matter. While I can understand how it’s a more pleasant way to go about doing things, it’s a bit of a nuisance at times when I just need someone to contribute their part of the work. I’ve been informed by a local that Gabs is a very passive aggressive culture and honestly, I’m starting to think it might be true. There is an upside to it though. People always want to sit around and chat even if you’re a complete stranger.

Last Wednesday I joined Matt for a work-related dinner to welcome the provost of University of Pennsylvania (which has a program in Botswana, hence Matt having work here.) It took place on a hill top in the middle of the Mokolodi Game Reserve. The food was excellent and conversation was lovely. ::laughs:: We debated the pros and cons of natural birth over dinner. I also met some fiber artists and might have even gotten a new customer!

They also had traditional dance performers from the San Bushman. I really enjoyed watching their performances and wish I could make it to the huge dance festival taking place this weekend.

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