I remember this time last year when my Bots 9 friends were talking about having "only six months left" of their service. They spoke of it with joy and excitement and trepidation. And today, I have reached that same mark. Ladies and gentlemen, I officially have only six months left on my contract. WHOA! As much as I knew this day would come, it has blindsided me. I remember counting up the days with my group-mates, day by day, and when we reached six months at site we all marveled. I am marveling again at the short time left before us. It is hard for me to believe that, in six short months, my Bots 10 family will scatter and embark on new adventures.
This is also a time for looking ahead. There are so many options that lay before us and so many different paths we could take. My fellow Bots 10s are applying to graduate schools and scouring the internet for job listings that might suit their fancy. And then there are a few of us, myself included, that are looking at extending our contracts for a third year, to remain in Botswana and take on the next challenge.
My decision to apply for an extension is one that I have considered at great length. I have painstakingly gone over the options and scrutinized it from as many angles as possible - looking at options of organizations I could work with and projects I could undertake, weighing my potential impact here against job opportunities back home and/or abroad elsewhere, examining requirements for my "dream jobs" and seeing what experience I might still need and how best to acquire it, and so on. If you know me, then you know many many lists were involved and even more hours contemplating the best choice, not only for me but also for my family, my friends (here and back home), and for the communities I work with. It all comes back to this: I have had the most remarkable experience here and feel like it just keeps getting better. I have been able to influence change in a positive way and have truly helped people. I have met and hobnobbed with some high level officials. I have learned how to navigate successfully at the grassroots level and organize communities for sustainable development. I have gained confidence in myself and my ability to give back. I want the opportunity, now, to put these new skills to use at a higher level and see how else I can assist this country that I have grown to love so much. And, ultimately, there is experience that I can gain in staying here that will be invaluable to my future. Plus, I am happy here. You really can't beat happiness.
For those of you who are worried it will be another year and a half before you see me... think again! Provided my third year extension application goes through, I will for sure be back in the states on home leave for a month (likely in time for my 30th birthday) and I will be expecting to see you (and hopefully you will be willing to take my poor tookus out for a drink or a bagel in celebration of our reunion?!)! Also, for those of you worried that I will fall in love and never come back stateside from Botswana... think again! While you may be right right about the "falling in love" bit, have no fear about the returning home part. The plan is to gain this new experience in Botswana and then bring it all back (the boyfriend too!) and live merrily in the states! So get ready folks because there will be a few big parties in our future!
One last "congrats" to my Bots 10 survivors! Only six months left together! Lets make the most of it!