Saturday, May 28, 2011

Village Love

My mom called me this week and asked if I was happy lately.  This lead me to realize that I've forgotten to tell you something important I figured out a little while ago:

I kind of love my village.

It's certainly not without its faults, and every single day there's something that frustrates me about either the place, the people or the culture, but I think that's normal.  And when it comes down to it, I feel incredibly lucky that Peace Corps put me where they did.  It took me a long time, a lot of work, and a lot of forced positive thinking to get here, but here I am. 

Every evening in Daagbe, the sunsets are stunning, like the kind of thing you see in postcards or computer backgrounds: a pink sky with blue, rolling cottonballs, or bright red-orange scattered with dark slices of cloud.  The people treat me like a rockstar: everywhere I go, I hear my name (or some version of it).  I even have a nickname: the ladies across the street call me "Kpon ene," which is the Gun word for 100 cfa... the amount of beans I buy practically every day.

I go to school, and my students love me.  Respect me? Sometimes, but love me almost always, getting my bag for me, and searching me out in the schoolyard to say "Good morning, Madame."  They do things just to make me laugh in class, and I love that.  My fellow English profs have my back and help me with ideas/projects/teaching advice, and last week my homologue Epiphane snapped at a guy in my defense, then when everyone else said, "Geez, it's just a joke!" he announced loudly that it was his duty to protect me.  My director has yet to shoot down one of my project ideas, and his wife calls me regularly to make sure I'm doing well.

Finally, my friends.  I have friends in village, women who will help me buy a couch or just invite me over to sit and watch TV.  Two professors this week invited me to their daughter's naming ceremony, and when I showed up, they thanked me about a billion times for being there (when it was really me who should have been thanking them for the invitation).  People invite me to sit down and eat, or sit down and just hang out, and they're genuinely curious about how things work in America: how do we travel, what do we eat, how does the school system work?  And I know for certain that if I ever need help doing something -- finding rice in the marche, arguing a price for a couch, switching a lightbulb, or buying biscuits -- anyone I ask will take the time to show me.

It took me a long time to love this place.  In the beginning, I spent hours crying on my cement floor, or writing desperate journal entries wondering if I was going to make it here.  And you know what?  I did make it.  I love it.


Theresa Ring said...

Not always an easy thing to make happen. But it's such an awesome feeling when it does. Good for you!

Tara said...

It's a little like college. You're afraid to leave your family and home at first, but a little excited. Then you get a little lonely and homesick, but given time, you end up not wanting it to end.

I hope you end up loving Daagbe as much as you loved college :)

Bill Brock said...

Your reflections about loving the village bring a little glisten to my eyes, so similar to my life in Cabrican, Guatemala 'back in the day.' First few months miserable, sick, lonely, questioning, then, (once I could actually talk!)friendships, adventures, achievement. Go girl go, very proud of you!