The last two weeks or so of my service have been kind of crazy, between exams coming up this school term, saying goodbye, and all of the logistics of completing my service and time in Botswana.
The logistics of leaving included cleaning the entire house, taking everything off the walls, packing, figuring out what to keep and what to give away (the women’s shelter in Gabs got a large donation, as did a volunteer a few villages away), burning a large pile of paper that wasn’t going with me, closing bank and phone accounts, and getting a lot of things signed at the Peace Corps office to be official.
Saying goodbye to the village involved several trips around to find the chief, the primary school teachers, the police, the clinic staff, and a friend that I found out is currently living in Gabs. I didn’t find everyone, but I found most people, and left word with them to tell the ones I missed goodbye. I also tried to explain to my neighbors that I was going, and to their kids that play in my yard. I gave a few pieces of clothing to the adults and a lot of tin cans and egg cartons to the kids. I didn’t want to give away too many things because there is a new volunteer immediately replacing me, and I don’t want people asking her for lots of things because of me.
Saying goodbye and finishing up projects at school bumped into testing and craziness. At the end of September the form 1 and 2 students took end of month tests, and the form 3s took mock form 3 exams, all at the same time. I got permission from the school administration to add a 1 hour guidance and counseling exam to this stack of tests, so I could try and measure what I taught my students over the past year, and be able to report some of those numbers to my school and Peace Corps. This was a good idea in theory, except the testing fell partially over the Botswana independence day celebrations, and there were several school days with few teaches and students (that’s another special story for another day). So my test got bumped almost 2 weeks, leaving me a week to grade 700 tests instead of the 3 weeks I had planned. I got my classes and 3 others graded, and left my counterpart with 6 classes ungraded to do whatever she liked with them.
I was also saying goodbye to the students, letting them do a question session for their last class, and taking pictures with them at the end of study period one day (pics in my last post). This was time consuming all around, but I was glad to be able to a) say goodbye to the students and give each class a picture b) answer any questions they had about me, America, the class, sex, condoms, etc. and c) give them their exams back, and go over with each class the body fluids that can transmit HIV, since EVERY STUDENT got that question wrong on the test. It gave me and hopefully them some closure from our classes and my time with them these last two years. I also gave a final post test to the GLOW girls that went to our last camp, and gave them pictures from that as well, and gave them hugs and encouragement in the next steps in their lives.
Saying goodbye to the teachers, the people I’ve made the closest friends with in my village, was harderst. I printed some pictures for them, gave a few gifts, and collected lots of email addresses. The Thursday night before I left they gave me a going away braii that I posted about previously.
Wednesday we left my village at 4:30 in the morning, in the dark, like I came. It’s still surreal to think I won’t be going back. I’m sad to leave my village, and I have lots of complicated feelings about what I was and wasn’t able to do, but I’m also proud of what I accomplished. I have good friends I hope to keep in touch with. I’m also excited to be going home soon, to finish my service, and ready for my next step in life, whatever that winds up being.