Sunday, April 24, 2011

Twenty Questions (#6-#10)

Continuing with the questions from a close friend of mine:

6. How much do you incorporate the Sierra Leone traditions into your life?

I have learned a great deal about patience. For example, arrival in Makeni at noon (good time for me from Freetown!) still means waiting for the vehicle to fill up from Makeni to my village. For the first while, I grew frustrated when it took an hour to fill up. Now, I've waited more than four hours, with nothing to occupy myself but my own thoughts and humming music and eating food. More than four hours? For Bryan XP, that would have been a nightmare. For Bryan 7, it's no problem at all. As for other traditions, I am now the consummate palm wine drinker and enjoy many of the more social / friendly / we're all in this together attitudes, although my friends will (probably) mention that I was like that before.

7. What creature comfort do you miss most?

It would appear to be internet, but I honestly miss air conditioning. Before you judge, let me explain. A variety of my medical experiences (mostly diarrhea, giardia once, and boils) have a variety of reasons, but boils, of which I've had the most, are a direct results of sweat, dirt, and openings in the skin. Openings in the skin happen all the time, but sweating all night is just a breeding ground for infections. The nights I've spent recently in an air-conditioned room left me waking up feeling refreshed and not like I'd spent the night in an oven. So, if I had to pick one, it would be air-conditioning. Feel free to judge,.. now.

8. Would you do this again? Recommend your children to it?

I would. Every experience is different and every experience is unique to the volunteer's attitude. Volunteers with a poor attitude or a dependence on Facebook will likely fail. Volunteers in a village not conducive to volunteers or a school with a poor administration will likely fail. This has been an amazing experience, and if I do indeed have children someday, I would recommend for them to apply. Their experience will be nothing like mine, or maybe exactly the same.

9. What was the hardest part for you?

Leaving home. I hated hugging my friends goodbye, hated knowing that everything was changing, hated acknowledging that when I returned in July 2011 and then in July 2012 that everything would be different. I hated leaving my parents at O'Hare International Airport in tears. I've had some bad days, really frustrating moments when I've been forced to listen to an m5 mix to find myself again, but the hardest part of the experience was leaving home, without a doubt in my mind.

10. When was the hardest part for you?

Turning to my parents at Security and saying, "Well. I have to go," hugging them, crying, and walking away from them to put my belongings on the security conveyor belt and pretend that I wasn't breaking apart inside.

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