“My life hasn’t really changed.”
Any time that thought crosses my mind and comes close to coming off my tongue, I have to stop myself. I mean, I know my life is different than it was in the States. But, since I am finding some normalcy in my day-to-day routine, I so easily want to believe everything is the same, when I know in fact, it’s not. I mean, come on, I have WiFi!
MY TYPICAL DAY IN THE UNITED STATES
I woke up each morning.
Okay, who am I kidding? I woke up around 11 am. Usually, to the sound of neighbors mowing their lawns, which always seemed quite early. I would get up and go through my late-morning routine: take a shower, brush your teeth, etc. Then I would go to the kitchen to eat a piece of string cheese or two, maybe a sandwich if I was feeling fancy, and also because it was always too late for breakfast. I would spend the next hour or so deciding what to do with my day before work. Plus, I had to pretend like I did more than work and sleep. Would I go shopping? Go to the gym? Hang out with a friend? No matter what I decide, I would never have enough time to do it, but I chose one of my options anyway. I would quickly rush out of the door and into my car to gym, Kohl’s, or go see friend. Rushed back across town to home to get ready for work, depending on the day of the week, I would even squeeze in picking up my brother from school. Finally, I would arrive at to work without absolutely no time to spare. I would eat a slice of pumpkin bread and make myself a matcha water and work until close. After work, maybe grab a drink with friends at our favorite spot. Repeat.
MY TYPICAL IN THE PEACE CORPS
I wake up in the morning no later than 7 am to the sound of chickens and maybe even some dogs. I put on my slippers and walk down the hall to the bathroom. If occupied, I wander outside about 100 m to the pit latrine. While outside, I’m greeted by my host siblings in the local language and also a few giggles and waves. I get dressed, make a French press coffee, and a bowl of Jungle Oats. I ride with my host mom to the clinic and greet patients in the local language while entering the clinic. Attend the daily devotional in the front of clinic with patients prior to opening. Spend the morning attending HIV/AIDS support groups, Life Skills lessons at the secondary school, or making house calls around the village with a Health Extension Worker.
For lunch, I walk 1 km home because there is no microwave at the clinic, and it’s nice to get some fresh air and steps under my feet. Return back to clinic after lunch. Work on ideas for girls club, read through Peace Corps documents, study Oshikwanyama, or make conversation with memes selling food under the large tree in front of the clinic. Knock off of work anywhere between 3 pm and 5 pm, depending on the workload that day. Exercise with my host siblings or go for a run through my village. Watch the kids cook oshifima (traditional porridge) and meat outside over an open fire. Some nights I make air-popped popcorn to share with them and we watch a movie outside under the Milky Way.
Some of my favorite past times:
– Watching my host siblings feed the pigs and just do chores in general. I’m amazed by the extent of housework children do at their ages. I wasn’t even allowed to touch matches, let alone collect firework, start a fire, make dinner, use a machete to cut melons, etc.
– Asking a million and one questions about everything, and getting “Yes” and “No” responses (mainly because the kiddos don’t understand what I am saying)
– Walking to the corner store to greet the pregnant Meme and to buy lemon creme cookies to share with my host family.
– Finding new recipes to make in my crockpot.
– Starting conversations with the secondary school learners on what they aspire to be when they graduate.