Thursday, June 25, 2009

It just gets better and better!

Ahh – I CANNOT believe June is almost over! Life at Stepping Stones International is amazing and I probably couldn’t be happier.

I met with Ruby, my friend at Someralang Tikologo, earlier this week to finalize the details for the environmental seminar I’ve arranged to come to SSI for the youth. We also worked out for the details for the Community Cleanup Event we’ve organized for July 11th. I’ve still got a ton of other work to do on writing and delivering letters for funding and invitations for the event, beginning the compost program, beginning my work term report and more! Needless to say, I am never bored here!

Last week, two of my good friends, Nicole and Sharon, called me. It was really nice to hear from them and know that they’re thinking about me! Also, thanks to everyone for the e-mails and messages along the way; I know it might not seem that significant to you back home, but they really do mean a lot! Anyways, after talking to them, I was left craving to be back home with everyone, sit on the patio at the Blue Moon, have a BBQ around the pool or head to Southampton for the birthday weekend. But after thinking about everything, I realized as much as I miss Canada, it’s not the luxuries that I miss. I don’t miss the pool or my jeep or my blackberry or even hot water and a laundry machine (although they all would be nice additions). But all those things that I have back home that I couldn’t imagine my life without turn out not to matter so much... the only thing that I genuinely miss is the people I left. I miss summer cottage trips with my family. I miss handing out in basements and camping in trailer parks with my friends. Not that I’m necessarily going to give up those luxuries, but this trip has just made it really obvious to me that all the things I thought I needed in my life back home don’t seem as important now that the people that matter to me have been removed from my daily life. Believe me, I will never take these people for granted again!

I think part of the reason I love it here is that for the first time in my life, I LOVE my job. I have yet to wake up in the morning, wishing I wasn’t going to work. That’s not to say life at SSI is perfect, but the frustrations that come with it is partly what I love (well... at least what I’m learning from these frustrations). I feel like I get so much accomplished at work-and it’s not mindless pouring coffee or statistical reporting, but instead it’s meaningful, important, interesting and fun work that I like to do! I have gained so much experience in areas that I never would have had exposure to back in Canada. The team I work with has been so supportive of every idea I have had. I need to especially thank my boss, Lisa, and my co-worker Tinny, who have helped me every step along the way.

Last weekend I attended the Toyota Desert Race in Botswana. I went with one of my co-worker’s daughter and a bunch of her friends. It was an absolute blast! We spent the first night camping, partying and braii-ing in the middle of a bush in the desert (just past Molepelole). We woke up early the next morning, cooked eggs and sausage over the fire, and chased the race, catching glimpses of the trucks and sand-blasters at various check-points. And when I say camping in the bush, I mean it! – no running water, no electricity, no BBQs – just coolers full of drinks and meat, fire and tents! I saw some very interesting things this weekend in Botswana, as well. Not only is drinking and driving commonplace on weekends and for big events, but the police are so relaxed and easily bought off that it is no wonder there are so many accidents. Afterwards, I spent my trip home from the race in the back of a pick up truck – almost the entire way the truck was speeding in the passing lane; since I could not see forward, I spent my time praying that there was no on-coming traffic! Eventually, I was so exhausted and was able to pass out in the blankets so I didn’t have to think of the realities and dangers of the situation.

We have booked our flights and arranged our travel plans for after our placements! Our schedule is quite ambitious, but I think we have planned well that we will get to see everything we wanted to. In 14 days, we will: go on game drives at Chobe National Park, bunji-jump off of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, white-water raft down the Zambezi River, bus over 18 hours from Zambia to Malawi, volunteer with a friend in Zomba (Malawi), snorkel and camp on Lake Malawi, fly to Dar es Salem in Tanzania where we are spending a day volunteering with another friend in an orphanage and lastly, spend our last 2 days in Africa relaxing on the beautiful beaches on the island of Zanzibar. I know it’s really ambitious, but I AM STOKED!

This weekend is going to be pretty relaxed – I’m going to cook dinner for my family. Then, on Tuesday, the WUSC office here is taking all the volunteers on a 5-day trip through Maun, the Okavango Delta and up to Shikawe. Every person here that I have told about the trip is jaw-dropped at the experience I will get; apparently these are some of the most beautiful places in Botswana that even most Motswana have never been!

Well sorry for the long note, hope everyone’s summer is going nice. I heard the weather in KW is up in the 30’s!!!


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