Peace Corps life is infamous for its slowness. Coming from a nation where even the food is fast, it takes Americans a great deal of time to adjust to the pace of a place. At the slightest expression of impatience, West Africans love to joke about how I am American, so “Tiiime ees moh-nee!” And while I hardly notice these days when I’ve been sitting for several hours in waiting, I know I am still not fully adjusted to the unhurried pace of Benin.
However, I’ve found myself in an interesting limbo, as was evidence from the whoosh of Camp GLOW. The week of camp was by far the fastest of these past two years for me… It was one week of “American time” during which I bustled all day, slept hard all night, and woke up hard every morning to be once more dictated by schedules and clocks. I loved the sense of purpose, ownership, and responsibility that came with the opportunity to plan and participate, but now, three weeks later, I still need an early bed time and a late sleep-in to recover… Five weeks from now, an unbounded amount of America just might wear me out! Here comes the reintegration period…
Camp was a phenomenal experience for the girls and counselors though, to get a glimpse
of another culture, learn from Beninese women they admire, meet their peers from other parts of the country, and to develop the leadership skills that will help them improve their communities.
Highlights of the week: a team-by-team fashion show to everyone's new favorite song, "Happy!"
Team Blue struts it's stuff
Plus, the girls sang “Happy Birthday” to America on the 4th of July – in three different languages! Peace Corps sure does turn you into a patriot!
Once again, as with most Peace Corps activities, the cultural component seems to be the most memorable.
4th of July relay races! Note the PCVs' enthusiasm for RW&B :)
Life will certainly slow down again now, at least for the next month, as I wrap up village projects, plan my departure, and say my goodbyes. I’m excited to be home again, but I’m not yet anxious to leave, which I consider a good thing. I’d like to finish strong and leave my community and this still foreign place on a good note, knowing I really did give it my best try for two years.
I’ll probably post again in August, one last note before I go. I’ll try not to become delusional and romanticize the challenges and realities of the past two years, but I suggest readers prepare for at least some sentimentality…
Wishing you all a happy camp season.