When Heidi Jansen left Chicago for Botswana as a US Peace Corp in 2009 all she had on her mind was to do her term and head back home to finish her education.
She had no idea she would find love.
“I think this is the best thing that has happened for me”, she told The Voice as she stared lovingly at the man whom she married earlier this month.
The couple sends each other mirthful smiles throughout the interview. The army man from Keng village in Ngwaketse is smitten.
Posted as a Social Worker in Shakawe, fate linked her with Marothodi Seosenyeng on Independence Day in 09. She was selling drinks at the annual Miss Independence pageant when she met the man with whom she plans to bear children with and spend the rest of her life with.
Until that day all the men she had met had almost always instantly professed their love for her and asked for her phone number.
“I found him different. He was respectful and did not make any fuss when I asked him to help me with selling the drinks. He did not ask me for my number or make passes. I found that quite refreshing,” Heidi told The Voice.
For Marothodi meeting Heidi was refreshing too. She was different in the sense that she wanted to get to know him first before committing to anything.
“Most Batswana girls are so fast with love matters. They have no time to get to know a man before jumping into bed with him. I guess most men are that way too”, he said.
Three months after their first meeting Marothodi took his love home for Christmas and she loved it. Her stay in Shakawe made her adaptation to rural Keng easier.
Marothodi’s family and the village instantly accepted her and made her feel at home away from home.
“They treated me real well” she says.
Her husband smiling quips in: “I took her home because I wanted her to meet my family and appreciate our lifestyle. I even took her to the cattle post and was pleased when she fitted in and enjoyed the whole experience.
In 2011 Heidi went back to the US to finish her Masters Degree in Social Work at the Monmouth University, This was perhaps the time that tested their love for each other and drew them closer. Nobody believed she would come back.
“What they did not know was that we kept in touch via facebook, emails and spoke a lot over the phone” the love struck Marothodi says.
It was during this time that Heidi introduced him to her parents over the phone.
“I offered to pay lobola but he declined and just wanted to know if I truly loved her daughter,” he said.
Besides bringing joy; cross racial relationship also has its down.
Heidi has to deal with people calling her Lekgowa and she hates it.
“I get it all the time and I do not like it. I wish they could stop”, she says.
Marothodi also has to deal with nonsense from friends, members of the public and some senior colleagues at work.
“Most men want to know is how I met her and if I can hook them up with her friends. It annoys me but I have learnt to live with it” he says.
“At work I have a problem with envious colleagues and some jealous seniors. For example whilst preparing for the wedding one instructor forced me to quit the driving course I was doing at the barracks because he said he knew about weddings and the four days I needed were not enough”, he continues.
It is this attitude that influenced his decision to quit the army.
“I am resigning soon to go to Keng, where I and my wife will run an NGO,” says the young man who is also a mechanic and a musician.
One other thing they have had to deal with is beauracracy. When Heidi arrived back from the US and visited her love for the first time at the army barracks she only stayed for a few hours before army official asked her to leave. They wanted to do a background check on her before they could let her live in the camp. It took about a month during which her husband found her accommodation with a friend of his in Phase 6, Monarch.
And Heidi is enjoying herself although she misses her family, friends and the weather.
“It’s hot here and I miss the snow.” she says.
She is however happy that the people here are warmer and the meat better than what she gets back home.
“The people here are friendlier than those in Chicago. I love the beef here. It tastes better than what we eat in Chicago”
And the newlyweds are not worried that the seemingly despicable sexual habits their nations are known for won’t affect their marriage. The yanks are known to average more sexual partners in their lifetime, while Batswana are renowned for multiple concurrent relationships.
“Most Americans may have more partners but they usually end a relationship before starting the next”, Heidi says dismissing the idea that she might hook up with someone else whilst married.
She also trusts his man, who is a singer and has released two albums not to go for other women. Even though she comes from a nation whose artists are known for groupie sex she thinks her man will not go that way.
For his part the man also says he trusts his women not to break the marriage vows and bring another man into their life.
Trust it seems is the way forward for this young couple.