Big Up from Aribinda

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hesitation, Apprehension

Last night, amidst the chattering and hollering of my fellow sots, I became fidgety about Africa. My friend Justin, whom we lovingly refer to as Jud, opined to me his trepidation concerning my very near Peace Corps duty. He knows I am very tight with my family. He knows I will be all right, but he also acknowledged how hard it would be. That is comforting, yet disconcerting in a way. My friend Chinh, who taught English in Vietnam for a while, has also told me how hard it was, how you don't have the same support network in-country when you are, let's put it, in-your-country.

To leave things behind is not how I choose to look at my upcoming adventure. I look towards the future, toward the horizon and what lies ahead. My family will always be with me, maybe not there at a moments notice. I keep them close to me, as I do my friends. I am also being trained with more English speaking volunteers, who I will bond with. Of course, it won't be the exact same.

Turning my focus to the future is good, however Zen buddhism has taught me to think in the present. Do not dwell in the past and try not fabricate a future. There is hesitation in me, but little. I will get over my homesickness, and I really wanna hear French and tribal African tongues, and I yearn for that feeling of becoming culturally endowed, and, wondering do I have the mettle to deal with this situation. I know I have the gusto, my joie de vivre will carry me through hard times. Knowing that my family is with me, in a psychic sense, is comforting.

It will be difficult, but it will be a blast. Paradox, that is what many journies are made of. Like Chris Stevens once said, "I feel like my karma's all dressed up with nowhere to go." I know where mine's going: to Africa and to good fortune.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Anticipation, Expectation

As the Dark Continent looms on the horizon, I believe it is time to reflect on what I have done with my time up until now. I have done well and learned a lot about where I come from, where I am going, and now I must find out what I need to do. Leaving this beautiful Oregon is going to be hard, but not that hard. I mean, Africa, are you kidding me? I am so privileged, so lucky to be able to do this. I have always wanted to be trilingual (French, then maybe Dari, Urdu, Pashto, Farsi, Arabic, or Hindi) and be in the minority. I will be in a very well-to-do minority, however, so it doesn't really measure up. But it will have to do.

I know I like to think the culture shock won't be that bad, but I am in for it. I love French and I think I will pick it up quick. Picking up Mooré may be more difficult though. Hopefully learning them concurrently will be advantageous. I guess I should just not anticipate anything. Go into this wild safari with no expectations, no visages of what will transpire, what I will see, what emotions will course through me.

Having no expectations is impossible. I dream about Africa, about seeing the Volta Rouge all the time, running along clay roads and through the savanna, about checking out the beach at Accra, at Conakry. It's gonna be something else when I can't understand half the things my host family is saying to me though! Expectations were meant to be smashed and unmet, in some cases, anticipations made to be mistaken. That is part of what this journey is all about.

In any case, I am happy to be doing it. I am gonna have a blast and learn many more lessons and have so many more experiences than so many people can possibly imagine. Fortunate and grateful am I for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Carpe diem, something I am guilty of not always adhering to