My Peace Corps Journey began in August 2017; this being my first journey outside of the United States I had no idea what to expect.
I have been included in certain uncomfortable situations, both intentionally and innocently; during my Pre-Service Training and my permanent site placement, however I have found that my most important defenses have been patience, both with myself and my community and having a sense of humor about most situations.
My experiences truly are my own, other volunteers may relate on certain levels but certain things can only resonate inside myself. Integrating into a community in which you stand out literally like a sore thumb is a very unique experience. On many levels it can be tiring; when you are active in your community sometimes you are surrounded by well-meaning people who merely want to touch you and “see what happens”. This sentiment is understandable, especially since I am likely the first American and the first African American they have seen in person, but this does create an additional level of pressure. I have to not only represent the United States and The Peace Corps, but I am responsible for setting the standard for how future African American volunteers are perceived. It can be overwhelming trying to reverse the perceptions that many people have from television, music and films but unlike perceptions of some in America, I understand these opinions are influenced more by lack of knowledge than deliberate ill intent. I find that in order to function properly, I need to schedule time to “be alone”. This recharge period can truly reverse an overwhelming day and help to realign my priorities. To conclude I’d like to iterate how happy I am with my site placement and with my students, but there are some days where I’d like to be just another face in the crowd, not the main attraction.