I think living alone in a different culture makes you really want to share that experience with someone back home. You have these moments where you just need to show a tiny image of what your life is really like, and with my friend Patrick and Lindsay Drake visiting me these past few weeks, I’ve gotten a few opportunities to say, “So, what do you think? Is this just all crazy, or what?”
Chester (Patrick) was my fraternity brother in college, and he keeps saying (and this may not be a joke) that he wants to start an “adopt a volunteer” program where Americans can sponsor, for a small fee, the rough-and-tough lives of Peace Corps Volunteers. Think Sarah Mclachlen’s “save a pet” commercial but to the tune of “save a Peace Corps Volunteer.” Of course, then we realized that the “small fee” is actually just America’s tax dollars.
So, then, Patrick came up with the idea of what he called the “Peace Corps Repatriation Program,” where volunteers returning to America after a few years in a different culture would need to go through a “program” to help stop them from many common faux pas, as they re-entered American life. Here are just a few we worried many of the recent volunteers who have returned to the States (like Caity, Avery, and Nicole) will be dealing with for the next few months:
1. Trying to bargain for prices at Target: “What do you mean this lamp is $39.95?! That’s my rent for a month! Jump down on the price a little, please. Please, I speak your language. Just knock the price down a tiny bit.”
2. Pooping in the bathtub: “I’m sorry, Mom, but the drain was a hole in the floor, so it just made sense. Can’t you buy a bucket?”
3. Table manners, or lack thereof, as everyone stares at the returned volunteer, shocked, “Did Avery just suck the marrow out of that bone?”
4. Using bread instead of utensils at the Olive Garden, “Uhm, sir, we’re going to have to limit you on bread sticks. We are running out of bread. Can you not see that you have forks and knives to eat your lasagna?”
5. Transportation: “I’m thinking about taking a trip to Chicago or Florida this weekend. It’s only an twelve hour drive either way, and in Peace Corps time, that’s nothing.”
You get the idea.
It’s been nice having them here. Sharing this life with someone has been extremely important to me for quite some time, so I’m glad to finally have been able to do it. I think they get why I love it here, and that’s important to me, too. I’ve managed to get a few of their pictures uploaded onto Flickr and whatnot. Have a shufty.