"I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded…"

first week of training 05.02.09

Posted in personal by stuart sia on May 2, 2009

so, i’ve been in-country for about 2 weeks now, and in molepolole for about a week, and i’m doing well. i’m living with a great host family, who have given me the setswana name, “tshiamo”, meaning “goodness” or “righteousness.” i like my host family, and i like the name they’ve given me. i was thinking i should be named “lesego,” which means “lucky” just because i felt so lucky to be placed into such a nice family. but, i like tshiamo. 

i’ve been going through intense peace corps training, which has had its ups and downs. i’m really enjoying learning setswana. i’m in a language cluster with erin, megan, and jonathan of indiana (yes, they’re all randomly from indiana) and we’re “lucky” to have a great teacher, named…wait for it…wait for it…lesego. i’m picking up on it fairly quickly i think, thanks to having learned swahili (asante sana, mwalimu zuhura), and i’m getting a kick out of the phonetics. gotta love those clicks. and those tones can really get you too. you really don’t want to go to town asking for human breasts when you’re really looking for sorghum.

we’re going on individual site visits next week, which we are all uber excited about. i’m going to a place called ghanzi, which is in the western part of the country. it’ll only be about 4 days, but i’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of the country. i’ll be traveling with another trainee, glen, and we’ll be staying at the home of a current volunteer, brian. brian isn’t a life skills volunteer, like i will be, but is instead working with the district AIDS coordinator office. nevertheless, i’m sure it will be helpful to see how he lives day to day and how he’s able to integrate into his community. and, i think it’s always beneficial to understand how other sectors functions. afterall, we are all intertwined in this multi-sector approach to eradicating AIDS anyway.

that has been interesting too, learning about the government of botswana’s approach to this pandemic. for those of you unfamiliar, botswana offers free HIV testing and anti-retroviral medication to its citizens, which is pretty amazing. but even then, there are still institutional and organizational inefficiencies to overcome. and when we take into account the perhaps more fundamental cultural challenges (issues of stigmatization, attitudes towards promiscuity, attitudes towards homosexuality…) ,  we find ouselves in a fairly similar boat as other people fighting the disease elsewhere.

5 Responses

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  1. Dodo said, on May 2, 2009 at 7:08 am

    yay im so happy to know what ur doing! its great that u could finally write a little! ;) everything sounds exciting and im sure the trip will be useful… i’m sure it’ll be good to see how other parts work… i’d love to hear more about the work YOU’ll be doing tho… when u have time.. :P

    i just saw a documentary about Swaziland and how its government does nothing to prevent or stop the spread of hiv. over 40% of people are infected…. so what ur saying about botswana is pretty amazing. and im sure stigmas will always be there, no matter where you go. which doesnt mean we shouldnt fight them. it just means that although they are present at least the government does something, you know? and thats def. something to appreciate… it could be worse..
    wow this wasnt really coherent. im sorry im tired :/
    but anyway. keep us posted! i love ur blog and i’d love to know more and more and more!!!!!!
    good luck w/ learning the language! i’m sure u’ll do great, ur a language fanatic! pia es csok! :))))))

  2. Gindy said, on May 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Hey Stuart! Sounds like you’re having a wonderful experience. I’m glad I get to read your blogs. You’re amazing. I’m really getting inspired reading about your experience. :)

  3. Chris said, on May 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    i know only one piece of trivia about people from Indiana. “Hang a Louie” and “Hang a Ralph”. Unless the guy i talked to was messing with me, in Indiana-speak this means: make a left turn and make a right turn.

    oh one other thing i know about Indianans, if you want to endear yourself to them, tell them how much you hate Larry Bird’s guts (just kidding…)

  4. Ken said, on May 25, 2009 at 4:36 pm


    Seems like things are going well for ya! So glad!!! Love reading this blog of yours, keep it up.

    Your bud,
    Ken…er Ali

  5. John Southworth said, on May 26, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Deja vu….

    When I was in Peace Corps Malaysia (as a science/math teacher) I also was lucky to live with a host family in my town. It further helped me to get to know local people….even though it was something like being in a zoo and always “on show” for people to see a crazy American.

    Perhaps most poignant was the Malaysian’s reaction to the death of President Kennedy. They really felt he was an important world leader that allowed them to maintain friendly relations with our country (and PCVs like myself).

    Let’s hope President Obama continues to develop renewed goodwill with more of the world nations who have lost faith in us over the last years. Let’s also pray he avoids a similar fate as President Kennedy in this world of increasing insecurity and violence at all levels of society.


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