Posted by: kristinej | July 20, 2010

Home

Well, after 15 hours in the air and over 30 hours in total transit time, I am back home in Iowa.  It was an emotionally and physically exhausting few days leading up to and including the trip home, but I am excited to be back.

Even after having spent a year here, I was still learning new cultural customs up until the last day, this time with how people say goodbye.  In addition to having a goodbye/birthday dinner with my host family and the other volunteers, I also spent Friday and part of Saturday going around Yirimadjo and saying goodbye to women from our program and other people I know.  While in the US a goodbye is usually just composed of “I’ll miss you” and maybe a hug, here it is a little more involved.  Some observations:

–       It is appropriate for people to give you gifts when you are leaving.  I received a wooden wall hanging, sandals, and fabric. When someone gives you a gift, it is appropriate for your friends to thank the person on your behalf, even if they weren’t present when the gift was given.

–       While you would normally never shake hands with your left hand, when you are going away for a long time you offer each other your left hands as a way of saying that you hope you will see each other again.

–       Some blessings you might give or be given: You respected me, may God respect you; May God never make me ungrateful to you; May we continue to see each other; May there be peace behind me.

–       It is also appropriate for both parties to ask for forgiveness, sometimes through a third party.  Even the other day I was telling the boutique owner that I was leaving soon and he said, “Forgive me.”  I was thinking, “I don’t even know your name, but ok, you’re forgiven!”

Everyone kept asking me if I would be back, which was a hard question to answer, but I usually just told them that I didn’t know but that I hoped I would be able to come back sometime.

While I have already been immensely enjoying the comforts of American life, I know that I will definitely have moments of reverse culture-shock.  I think the hardest part will be getting used to the faster pace of life and all of the excesses in our society. At the same time, having lived a year without most of the things we are so used to having, I am that much more grateful for them.

Now that I’m back, this will most likely be my last post.  I’ve enjoyed writing this blog this past year, and thanks for reading!

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Responses

  1. I am so glad you are home safely nad I will really miss you blogs. Maybe you can continue to write as you decide what to do and where to go. You are a gifted writer. Love you.


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