While I know I’m not the quietest of individuals, I would say that I’m a pretty big people-observer. I LOVE people-watching... what people are wearing, how they talk, their mannerisms and whatever else is observation-worthy. It’s been really interesting being here in Bots, because now I’m not only looking at people as individuals, but I’m immersed in a completely different society where everything is foreign to me. I’d like to think that I’ve integrated fairly well, but there are definitely things that I’m still getting used to—primarily, as it is called by my lovely friend Melissa, “The Spirit of Asking”. Batswana will ask for anything and everything. For example, I can’t tell you how many people have started to lay claim to stuff I’m going to leave behind. People will have no problem asking for me for items of clothing that I am wearing or (rarely) for money/gifts, and they especially have no problem asking for help on something. While I may be asked for certain things as a foreigner, I think it goes much deeper than that. As a people (of course this is a generalization, but forgive me), Batswana receive a lot from the government, from ARVs to money to fund a university education—and when there is something they want, they will simply ask for it. Now at first, I found this mildly irritating; but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was actually quite an ingenious concept. As Canadians, I think we are often afraid to ask someone to do something, for fear of inconveniencing them in any way possible (what can I say? We’re polite people). As a result though dear readers, how many times have you found yourself screwed because you were too afraid to speak up? You are at an event and need to get home, and even if you know someone is going in the same direction as you, you don’t ask for a ride and end up paying out of your butt in cab fare. Or you have to go out and buy a certain product because you didn’t want to ask someone to lend you theirs. Or you find that you’re left with a big project to do yourself because you didn’t ask anyone else for assistance. I think it happens all the time in Canada, but really we’re going off the assumption that other people are going to be offended at our request for something. Ultimately though, how offended are we when someone asks for help? I know it’s very rarely a big deal for me, and I’m usually willing to do whatever is asked of me-- I’d like to think that all people are generally kind and want to help others. In short, I think Batswana have got it right. Mind you, you’re probably more likely to get what you ask for in Botswana than you are in Canada—for example, I could never charm my way into speeding up the application process for a country visa early in Canada, the way I have here. And it doesn’t mean I have to ask for anything or everything, like a certain individual did while we were camping in Khutse (EXPOSED! Just kidding, love you Taps!)... but it’s worth a shot, right? Ask, and more often than not, you shall receive.
In other news, there’s no way I can update you all on everything that’s been happening since I’ve been busy as hell. But the big news is I’ve finally confirmed my flight home: May 31st is the big day when I’ll be returning to my beloved homeland. Can’t wait to see you then!