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.