Date: 8 September 2019
Location: A friend’s house
The little things matter. Let’s make your Peace Corps experience a good one.
I’m in the village. It’s good now.
With every passing day, it easy to drown yourself in despair. Minor inconveniences like not having a sink or running water can mess with your mentality. With each day, there’s an opportunity to cry over spilled milk, or be glad that you even have milk to begin with.
There was a point when I was cooking on the floor, eating off my one plate, and binding myself to this endless spiral of worries about what I was going to do about dinner. It took a couple weeks to adjust, a few more things in the kitchen, and the courage to go in the market and just use the language.
The difficult part was just psyching myself up to do these things. Getting plastic shelves or bins from Target or WalMart seem like such a trivial thing, but buying these small fixtures become a bit arduous because you’re factoring in transportation, money, your safety and security, and just trying not to be that one person who gets overcharged.
It was always difficult when I got stuck in my head thinking I couldn’t do these things or I wasn’t ready.
It’s been almost a month now living in the village, and while there are still those minor inconveniences, I’ve found ways to get around them. It’s the small wins that matter.
The small wins gave me the feedback that things are gonna be okay.
I can go to town to buy those plastic shelves now. I feel comfortable being by myself in a taxi as the only foreigner. My money is safe. My being is safe. And now, I can definitely bargain for my own price in the native language.
Comfort comes through experience.
Language is Crucial Part of Success in Peace Corps
Ndhega olusoga olutontono / I speak a little Lusoga.
I think one of the most unique things about being in Peace Corps is learning a new language and being forced to use it nearly everyday. In some cases, your language ability is the defining factor if you’re treated like a tourist or a volunteer.
It’s all about maintaining the integrity of being a volunteer because it’s we don’t blend in so easily. As an Asian American, I don’t even fit in to the standard American stereotype so it’s just a bit more difficult.
Because of the color of my skin, I’m not actually from America.
Because of my chinky eyes, I get called Chinese all the time.
These things begin to pile up in my head. It’s one thing after another of little nit-picky issues that make me not want to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. However, it’s because of these differences that I think being able to overcome these issues makes it all the more rewarding.