I was bantering with a friend on Facebook, offering up some Setswana for him to use back in Missouri, when I began thinking about how humdrum Setswana was, and why couldn’t I learn a cool language….
As I thought this, I stopped and literally almost dropped a basin full of dishes that I was preparing to wash, feeling like I had run into a brick wall. The one thought streaming through my head was “Wow, I am LIVING in AFRICA!” I literally had to catch my breath as I began to realize how much my life and myself has changed in the past four months.
It’s amazing to me that life here has become so incredibly normal that I forgot that I am living in a land that is thousands of miles away from home, surrounded by people who speak entirely different languages than I do, and in a culture that is fundamentally different than everything I have grown up with. Despite all of these immense differences, I have discovered a new, comfortable, and happy life here. Of course there are challenges and problems that confront me daily (or hourly). But when I’m comfortable and relaxed, I completely forget where I am. Amazing, huh?
As I sit here with the failing sunlight weakly streaming through my window, a delightfully cool breeze fluttering on my neck after a scorching day, I am reminded how much my life has changed, and how blessed I am. I knew that life as a college graduate would bring about major changes, but I consider myself very lucky to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, and infinitely blessed to be experiencing life as it is now. My future….who knows what it will hold. But I believe it is a very different future because of my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I’ve seen more of the world in the past four months than I ever have previously in my life. I understand in the deepest part of my heart the struggles of the developing world, and that can never be forgotten or unseen. And this understanding is giving birth to an entirely new person. I can only imagine the woman who travels back to America in two years.
As a PCV, I try to live in the present. I don’t want to look ahead too much because I do not want to miss the life I am able to live here, now. And looking back to life in America can be maddening when I am having a hard day. By continuously reminding myself where I am and what I am doing, I can experience life here to the fullest.
And Setswana is a cool language. But as I learn more and more, I forget how foreign and strange it seems to most Americans. Currently my Setswana and Spanish are battling it out in my head, and I wind up thinking things like “Porque ke rata go ja dipanana” or “Donde ke nna….” Makes no sense. But then again, my mind rarely ever makes sense.