I literally feel torn between two worlds. It’s a mixture of so many different layers that I will never be able to explain let alone reconcile to people in my village and even people back in the United States. It’s the sadness at knowing something that is simply impossible to describe to someone unless they too have experienced it. Everyone is a bit blind to something, and every experience removes some of that blindness if that person is willing. However, it is impossible to explain something that you have seen to a blind person because that person has no context for it.
How do I even begin to put this into words? I am sad that I am leaving my village of course. I am sad that I will not be able to describe what it means to have made a new home here, taken a new name, and spoken a new language to people back in the United States who will take this as a misappropriation of culture. I am sad that my villagers will never understand the ubiquity of ice, air-condition, and technology but that they do not need these creature comforts to be better. I am sad at the misunderstanding among cultures and how we tend to judge and make assumptions too quickly. I am sad that most people in the United States will ask me questions in order to validate their preconceived assumptions about Africa and Peace Corps. I am sad that the only people who will truly understand this experience from this point of view will be other Peace Corps Volunteers and no one else.
But I am happy that I am no longer blind to the reality of this part of the world. I am glad that I can better perceive the differences in cultures and how one isn’t necessarily better than another one. I am glad that I might be having the shittiest day ever, but the unbridled laughter of my neighbor’s kids can make me laugh too. I am content knowing what I know and not being alone.
And these are the drastic swings in temperament that I undergo every day.
24/9/15 – 30/9/15
I feel that I have very little control over my feelings these days. I oscillate between feeling pure excitement for the future and then sadness at how things fall apart. I spent all of Thursday editing my resume and contacting old references from college, my internship, and Peace Corps in order to complete a job application in Maryland. I had to reread some of my old blog posts from study abroad and college in order to piece together the dates of my old employment and internship. The weirdest part was opening up my old college .edu email account where all of my old emails were stored. I had forgotten the people and administrators with whom I used to talk.
I spent the majority of the day working on applications and then treating myself to sandwiches and salads at Kampala cafes. I got emotional as I saw Ugandan families treating themselves out to nice restaurants because it was Eid. On Friday I finally closed my PCPP Grant with Peace Corps and Washington, which took much longer than I expected even though I had tallied all of the numbers together on an Excel spreadsheet. I then traveled to Fort Portal to participate in the West Welcome Weekend where the newest PCV’s in the Runyoro-Rutooro speaking areas of Uganda came together to celebrate with the older PCV’s in that region. I was honestly surprised at how cool the new PCV’s were, and how I wanted to get to know them better.
Usually at this point, PCV’s don’t really want to invest the time in getting to know the newest PCV’s and instead want to just spend quality time with the older ones. I guess that I felt excited to hang out with some PCV’s who reminded me of friends I used to have back in the United States. During the weekend we ate Indian food, drank, went out clubbing at Forest, swam at Ndali Crater Lake, drank some more, ate some pizza, and chilled hardcore as we pretended that it was Fall and Winter in the cooler western region. It’s been a long time since I laughed this hard or enjoyed myself as much as I did swimming in a beautifully sketchy crater lake or convinced everyone to play a categories drinking game involving a shuttlecock and rackets.
However, the hardest part was making it back home. We left the “high” of the weekend and were welcomed by the hot, stinky atmosphere of Kampala before a rainstorm. I just didn’t want to return home. After a last-minute burger at Iguanas, I made it to the Wobulenzi taxi and then boarded my dusty bicycle. A few minutes into the ride I started feeling better because the bodamen and children greeted me by name. My happiness soon faded as a truck full of Ssebo’s (men) passed by me and one of them threw a rock that hit me in the face. I was so stunned that I stopped the bike and stared at them as they whooped and hollered at me. I brushed the dust off my face and continued on my ride as the sun set. I made it back home well after dark, and wanted to pass out on my bed and cry. I can’t explain why I’m so emotional these days, but I’m a complete wreck.