Happy Birthday America!
Two years ago, I was enjoying my last day at home before I departed for
two three years in Africa. I believed my family grilled out some steaks, and my sister and I enjoyed a fantastic fireworks display, as per tradition.
One year ago, I was at home for a 2.5 week visit, and once again, we had great food and great fireworks. The holiday was much more special to me, after spending a year in another country. And I really appreciated the awesomeness that is the US of A.
This year….I’m definitely not in America. 🙂 Another PCV has been visiting me this week, so instead of celebrating the 4th, Tumi and I have been celebrating America week. We’ve been enjoying some delicious American food (tacos, chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, brownies, etc). We’ve both been chattering endlessly in our American English and joking around far too much. We’ve watched some great American movies and listened to some good music.
But above all, we are in Africa. And so, with Tumi’s first visit to a Tsonga area, we’ve been doing a few uncommon Independence Day activities. I’ve been teaching her to greet in Xitsonga, we’ve been chattering with my coworkers about differences in our culture, singing the South African national anthem, listening to African music, and today we wore our brand new Xitsonga traditional dresses.
I think almost every PCV goes home being more grateful to be an American, and all the opportunities that affords us. While there is still poverty, suffering, and inequality in the USA, it doesn’t come close to touching the reality in Africa. Even in tiny American towns, children can get a good education, go to college, and find a good job. There are numerous things about my homeland that I am eternally grateful for after living abroad for two years. While life isn’t perfect “that side”, I appreciate the life I’ve been blessed to lead in the States.
Next year at this time, I’ll be wrapping up my three year Peace Corps service, and I have no clue where I might end up. But wherever that is, I’ll be celebrating the “land of the free and home of the brave” and I’ll be thankful to call myself an American.