Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for teaching me that we should always be open and speak up, even if that means talking over someone else (that does mean you're actually listening, right?!). Thank you for occasionally smothering me and letting me smother you back. Thank you for teaching me that it's always too long between hugs and that closeness is not awkward. Thank you for rarely giving me personal space and always wanting to be in my business. It is because of you that I am not having trouble adjusting to these things in Botswana.
In Botswana, there is no such thing as personal space. People are very close, very loud, and very touchy-feely. Friends, both male and female, walk around holding hands and one should not be alarmed if another woman touches your breast during a conversation (it's not sexual, it's just intimacy here). Privacy and alone time are basically unheard of. In fact, in one of our first cultural sessions, a Motswana language and culture teacher told us that if you sit too long by yourself that the Batswana will think you're suicidal and will not leave you alone and will do everything in their power to cheer you up. After all, people should be together.
For those of you who know me well, you realize this is kind of my M.O. anyway (boob grabbing aside). So this has actually been very comforting to me. I like to socialize and hugs are my favorite thing. I am used to my family and friends knowing just about everything going on in my life - the same goes for their friends and families (we often know each other before we've even officially met). Basically, we're close and we like to talk... a lot! Volume level in conversations with my family gets extremely high as we converse over meals, drinks, and the like. I'm used to it and I love it. So it is not weird or different or uncomfortable when the same thing is happening to me here.
The same is not true for some of my fellow trainees however and they have been struggling to adjust. They want some alone time, they are aggravated by the constant noise, and they actually have personal space bubbles. This is why I am thanking you. My adjustment to life in Botswana has been made infinitely easier because this is already my life. I am used to this type of community because of you and I am beyond grateful for this.
So, with all my heart, thank you to each and every one of you who has contributed to breaking down my boundaries and making me the person I am.