From -African Visas
"What was behind that decision to join the Peace Corps? I'll never be sure. For me, part of it was an instinct opposite from the one that was settling everyone else down. It may have been the remnants of the ancient will to migrate which showed up as curiosity, a dream of other places, the way you gave yourself a chance. At bottom, there was rebellion. From the beginning, when I started to go away, first to [Italy], I wanted to flaunt it, as though crossing borders was a way of meeting the world's dare. And not to be a tourist either: `you had to go and live someplace for months or years to make it real. You had to learn the language which offered a kind of freedom, another way of saying things, another psyche. To know how an [Ethiopian] will express this or that, constructions that make you sound a stranger to yourself, let you be someone else."
I had to put this in because it exactly captures my feelings, the same ones that I have been trying to express since I started this blog.
The funny thing about the Peace Corps is that on the hard days you try and think about why you decided to do it, but you only remember on the good days.
Just got back from my delightful trip to visit Danae in the big city of Butare. All in all, a very refreshing trip, and as always when I'm with her, we make sense of each other's lives and talk through all our troubles. I also saw some other lovely fellow PCVs there and we chatted through our whole process here and also reflected on the 'us' of 4 months ago when we were getting ready to come here. A funny contrast to the 'us' of now. We were so full of excitement and ideas of what our life would be. Almost all of them have proven untrue in experience.
On the bus there I sat next to the parents of one of my students, a family that I coincidentally, visited on my first visit to this site. After the obligatory scolding for not having visited them, I talked for most of the 3 hr. ride with Mama Thierry. Here the women are often called Mama (enter name of child here, TYPICALLY the first boy). We talked in kinyarfranglais about life here, about my family in America, my life in America and of all things, student loans and interest rates. It's difficult sometimes to want to work through these conversations and forge these connections, but you're always glad you did. It's a lot like confession in that sense. Today I plucked up the courage to send a text to them asking when it would be good for me to visit. I'll likely be seeing them later this week.
On the way home, I sat next to a very nice Presbyterian minister who knows the volunteer nearest me and so we talked a bit about things around my area and then he was curious as to how much it would cost and how long it would take to drive from New York to Los Angeles if visiting the states. An interesting convo and now I'm trying to use my interactions with people in these situations to promote what we're doing here and give people a better understanding of the how and why as well. It's so funny though, because the immediate reaction most people have was verbalized by another woman I met on the bus. "You know kinyarwanda?" I replied, "I try...I am learning." When I told her what org I was with and what I was doing here and especially how long I would stay, she replied, "That's nice, that's good. We like you people." I knew she was referring to white people but I also like to think she was referring to people that stick around for more than a week or two or even a month or two. That's common here and I appreciate that our commitment is for much longer...even when it feels like forever.