The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love...Kenya

The contents of this website are my own PERSONAL opinion. They do not reflect the opinions, policies, actions, feelings, or eating habits of the Peace Corps, the U.S. Government, any government, shadow governments, or anyone else, for that matter, but ME.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Tale of Two Mistys

OK, so I know I am supposed to be writing about all the amazing things that are going on right now, but honestly, I am just settling into this life.  I have only begun to get to know the area and just started making visits to community groups this week.  It has been a bit trippy to go out to these meetings.  They are conducted all in Lou (not even Kiswahili, where I might have a chance following along) and I wonder if things are being done or said a certain way just because I am there. People are genuinely offended when I don't remember their names from a MONTH ago.  Now, those of you that know me know that I am crap with names to begin with, add meeting 20 new people a day who insist on giving you two names and see how easy it is to commit those to the ole noggin.  I am also getting lectured on how I need to learn Lou.  Ok, I am not arguing this point too much, but I would like to ask them how long it took them to learn English (they start English classes in 4th grade here, and all High School and College courses are taught in English)?  I then want to ask them if they speak Kiswahili well (which in this part of the country, they do not).  Then I want to say to get off my tako (butt in Kiswahili and a favorite word of mine because it reminds of happy "taco bell" thoughts from home).  I had an 80 year old British woman go on and on about it.  Now, keep in mind that she lived in Oyugis for 17 YEARS and doesn't speak any Lou OR Kiswahili.  Go figure!
A bunch of us met the other day in Kisumu to debrief and destress from our first two weeks at site.  I have been to Kisumu quite a bit as of late.  A few days before that I went to go say good bye to yet another extremely close friend who was ETing.  That makes the second of I would say my 4 closest friends who has gone home, and both of them have excellent reasons for their decisions, enough so that it even gave me pause.  Needless to say, each departure is tough on the ole spirit.  But Saturday's gathering was a definite boost.  It is hard to imagine the duel life you have to lead, especially as a woman PCV here in Kenya.  At site I am what I have taken to calling "Kenya Misty."  With my friends, and other Americans, I am just normal Misty who can laugh and say outrageous funny things without fear of being shunned or thought of as a "whore."  Women don't even ride bikes here in Kenya, so you can imagine the sight of me tooling down the road.  It is difficult some days to reconcile these two lives.  Kenya Misty feels stifling in some moments, but I know that in the long run, to be effective and have any impact, Kenya Misty has to exist because not being culturally sensitive is by far more damaging.  Hopefully as I integrate more into the community the two Misty's will merge and I don't have to lead a duel life.  Maybe.
A few of you have called recently, and I am so glad for that.  It has been excellent to hear these familiar voices from home.  Some of you have been worried by my tone, don't be.  I don't think in all the volumes of research I did, did I ever find anyone who wrote honestly about the difficulties of this time, and I know I am not doing a good job of it either (you never know who is watching).  Suffice to say that I am content so far and that I know I have choices.  Right now (and for a long time to come) I choose to stay here and try and do a good job (whatever that job may be).  Thanks for the concern, y'all are always on my mind and I love and miss you so!


  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger Crissy said…

    hey girl,
    lookin at your website missin ya lots love criss

  • At 3:50 PM, Blogger Crissy said…

    Annie and Bubba miss you too. Snet out another letter with some pictures of the kids. will send out more this week.


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