Everyday I sit at my kitchen table/desk whether I happen to be eating, reading, or working. Every now and again I can’t help but to glimpse up at the map of the world that dominates the wall above my table. The world looks so large and I long to explore all of it. It’s funny though, because while I’m sitting and staring at the mast size of the world I can’t help but to think how small my ‘world’ is here. Everyone’s house in my village is a stones throw away. (I’m not kidding; I could literally throw a rock from my house to anyone’s house) Everyday I try to talk around and visit with people just to see what the latest news and gossip is and remind them the white Malagasy is still here and so on. I say try because sometimes I’m busy working on things, working in the fields, or sometimes I don’t make it past my neighbors house and other times there’s a downpour, so in that case I definitely don’t make it past my neighbors house. Its all part of the PC experience of living and working in a small village. On any given day I can see all my friends and ‘family’ here, doesn’t get any better than that, right? I couldn’t do that back at home that’s for sure. Here there is a real sense of community. Does that come from the culture? Maybe, or maybe it comes from the fact that like the eco-system everything is connected in one way or another to each other therefore creating one whole. Is that what my village is then, one whole singly connected to every other person that lives in it? If so, how do I fit into this whole? Is there a place for a white girl from South Carolina? Is this part of my PC experience to see where I fit and where I don’t? As I approach being in this country for a year (9 months at site) I think the answer to these questions is a resounding and enthusiastic yes! (Following in suit with Barack’s “Yes We Can”). Since being here I’ve found that while I can’t change the color of my skin or seem to get a good grasp on this language, that no matter what my faults (I don’t eat rice 3 times a day sometimes, oops) that the people in my village welcome me knowing all of this with open arms. (Literally, we give hugs here. Be jealous) While I might stick out a little (I’m taller and bigger than almost all of them. Oh, did I mention I’m white?) if we were all linked hand in hand to form a circle it would create a strong binding connectedness thus creating a collective unit of one.
In that circle would be included newborns, farmers, lots of children, few elderly, lots of smiling faces with missing teeth, people who have never left my village, cow herders, some with physical disabilities, some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and lastly one white girl from America that will never forget any of the faces in that circle. Sometimes I don’t feel I even belong in that circle or their small world. I definitely don’t work and couldn’t probably work as hard as they do. I feel sometimes that they have already done so much more for me then I could ever do for them. Sometimes I wonder if I should even be invited into their circle at all.
Since I’ve been here that circle has always included a special place for me, I’ve just had to learn how to find my way into it. I’ve realized this experience and my life here is much bigger than I could have imagined when I signed up for “The hardest job you’ll learn to love”. It’s been a job bigger than doing huge projects that don’t have any likelihood to be sustainable. I’m finding that it’s much more than that. It comes in small doses sometimes too, a smile here and a smile there. Mostly I define my experience here by that slight glimmer in someone’s eye when they see me or we start talking about something. It’s a look of hope that comes from their soul. It seems to speak louder to me than anything they could ever express to me verbally. When I see that, that’s when I know I belong here. That’s when I know that while we are all one people, that all it takes is one to create that look of longing, the look of longing for what’s to come and being excited about the future and all the possibilities that it can bring. That’s when I find my spot in the circle. That’s when I find my role in my newly found small world.