Thursday, April 17, 2008

Placement in Benin......reaction???

So now my placement has been changed due to my insecurities with my asthma and Niger's extreme weather conditions. The extreme heat could trigger my asthma. Better safe than sorry. As far as how I feel about the new placement, I COULD NOT BE MORE SATISFIED! You may wonder why I'm so excited about the placement. For a few reasons, some medically and some personally. First of all, the weather is more tolerable which means better breathing for me. Hopefully....but I don't wanna count my chickens before they hatch. They also have decent fruits and that grow there! Pineapple, Mangoes, Oranges, Papaya, and bananas. Other reasons is because I wanted to be in West Coast Africa to learn more about the slave trade areas. Voodoo is a Caribbean tradition that goes back to Benin where it's true origin lives. The culture was sent over seas through the slave trade and we can still see that culture lived today in both places. I find that very interesting.

Nigeria and Ghana are very nice countries from what I've heard so I wouldn't mind checking them out since they aren't too far away. I also would have better access to a seafood diet. I REALLY love seafood! I am from Maryland if you didn't know. And I get the beach!!!! Yay!! Of course I may not be anywhere near it but it's in reach if I want to see it. It's definitely a country I wanted to see before I knew about my placement. Of course speaking from a slightly selfish point of view and from someone who doesn't know too much about the benin, these are a few basic things that I find pleasing about the country. You have to remember that I'll be living amongst extreme these few things hopefully will make my stay a little more bearable. Shout out to Josie who recommended me speaking to Peace Corps about my grievences. It truly made me feel sooooo much better! I'll be a community health advisor and I'm looking very forward to it! I leave July 1st.

I plan on using this website as much as I can and I would love to hear from current volunteers, future volunteers, returned volunteers, or just inquiring minds who want to live vicariously through my writings. Enough of the rambling. I've ALWAYS wanted to be a Peace Corps volunteer, even since I was in high school. I have always had a love for culture different than mine. I always wanted to travel and experience what life would be like in another perspective. Without this type of interaction, we cannot truly appreciate the things we have as Americans and what I look forward to most of all is to share life with humanity in a way that seeks to uplift each other through dialouge and compassion. Although I am an African American, I am still an American who has a completely different understanding than the people who live in Benin West Africa. To them, they may still view me as a "white person" which I believe is another word for "privileged". What MY personal goals as an African American woman is to show the Benin people that America isn't filled with people that are born rich. That includes white, black, and brown. It is important for them to know that America wears the faces of different types of people. America doesn't always have a white face or a rich face.

Many people on their blogs express their fears of being called the nasara or white person all the time and the burden of them being viewed negatively and seen as rich all the time. I can understand those fears clearly and I show my empathy. I too have fears from my own brown skin color. Although I may blend in which may be considered a good thing in some cases (won't be stared down to death), I still could be confused as one of them therefore, I could be more oppressed. Being a woman already has its risks. I may not be as respected by the people since I look more like them. This has been told to me in my interview. I may be ignored. Or even confused with being from a particular tribe. Being amongst people that look like me has its ups and down. I'll be able to see people that look like me in high office positions but i'll also see them dying and starving. These experiences can be difficult to bear and I expect tears to fall sooner or later. But I'll also will hear the beautiful music flow through my body from the drums beating, and learn about the precious culture that has been preserved, and develop bonds through a new language, and share skills and information to people. All of these things, good and bad, is what makes the Peace Corps Experience. I look forward to every step of the way!