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Author Topic: Weird things about returning  (Read 5894 times)

Offline Marion

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Weird things about returning
« on: November 01, 2013, 08:12:17 AM »
We have been back for about 6 months.   During the first few weeks when we got together with family and friends and we expected a lot of questions about our service.  Not the case.  Though they had not seen us in literally years, those questions did not come.  If we did get the odd question or two their interest wasn't all that high and their attention span was short, and quickly the conversation turned to what they were up to and the latest sporting event.  We thought it was really strange, and a bit frustrating.

The other odd thing to us was how quickly memories of our life in Botswana receded.  When I had been back only for a few weeks, it was as if I had never left.  It was like it had just been a dream.

The last few months at my site I could not wait to leave for the USA, but now after six months I find that I remember my little village fondly and miss the simplicity of life there, and sometimes even wish I was there.

Anyone else experience these things? 
Marion
RPCV, Botswana (2011-2013)

Offline sjbirkhead

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2013, 11:47:10 AM »
Just this morning I was getting ready to make a trip to the local library to utilize their computers and a thought occurred to me.  Wouldn't it be great to be back in my village today!   Just for one day to go see my friends and found out what was going on.  But be back in MY bed for the night.   :)
I have also had the same experience of people not really being that interested in talking to me about the Peace Corps experience  -  or anyway - not for long.  I keep carrying around a little handful of pictures with me but even if I mention them, no one wants to see them.  Ha ha!  This situation is something I did not expect.  I found also that people wanted to talk about their experience with Africa and not interested my mine.  Sad to say.
I really do miss my little village and my friends.  I find the hardest thing is the lack of communication.  I would love to hear from people and know what is going on with them now and happenings in the village.  Is Craft Group still going, Are you gardening, how are my disabled kids?   But no internet and they are not writing me letters.  :(

redmaypril

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 08:28:28 AM »
The odd part is that, even 6 years later, I will sometimes get a whiff of wood smoke and I'll have a flashback to life in the village. I definitely miss certain aspects of village life - waking up to the sound of roosters and goats, sunrises and sunsets and the activities that surrounded them, the call the prayer, just going around and greeting people in the morning....but I also don't miss being stared at, bush taxis, and the heat. (Niger 05-07).

Jennifer Spencer

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2013, 08:06:15 PM »
Nobody in my family really cared to hear about anything Peace Corps related.  It was odd, but in reality, they didn't go; I did.  So, do not expect a lot of questions nor interest.  Keep in touch with RPCV's -- they're the ones you can relate to.  Seriously, it's been 20 years, and I still feel the only people I can really talk to about my experience are other RPCV's or people who have lived abroad. 

Also, get used to hearing ignorant comments about other countries and cultures.  You'll find yourself speaking up a lot in defense.  Happened yesterday, in fact!

Offline Carol

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2014, 07:09:21 PM »
I was prepared for people to not be so interested in Peace Corps stories based on what everyone was saying.  But I have had an entirely different experience.  Everyone seems to ask about it and they ask a lot of questions.  I find I am getting tired of talking about the same things over and over again.  I find myself continually directing people to our blog if they want to know more. 

John and I prepared a 900 picture slide show we were sure would scare people off - but about 20 family members gathered around and most sat through the whole thing.  There were more questions - we had hours of pretty in depth conversation that I think everyone enjoyed, especially John and I. 

I have told family and friends that as soon as I get a job I plan to have a fund raising party for one of the NGO's I worked at and I want it to be a Botswana themed party - and I keep getting questions about how to dress or what to cook for upcoming party.  I do enjoy helping my friends plan for this upcoming party. 

I miss the peacefulness of Africa.  We used to sit and watch the sun set almost everyday with a bunch of the kids from the neighborhood.  Now it is cold in Chicago and I am frantically looking for a job and there is no place to put a chair and watch the sun set and there are no children waiting for us to come outside and spend a few minutes talking to them. 

I am hoping once I get a job I will find a little more peace of mind in America.  I hope that the job will not become the all consuming thing it was before I left for the Peace Corps and I mostly hope I will find a way to take a half hour out of each day to just enjoy where and I am and who I am with - liked I learned to do in Botswana. 
Peacefully, Carol

Offline tdefayette

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 01:13:26 PM »
I really enjoyed everyone's comments about returning home. I always felt that the Peace Corps experience was an intensely personal one. Our journey, our discovery, our joy and sadness is only known in reality to ourself. Even our fellow RPCV's / PCV's can't feel what we feel deep inside. We can relate at a certain level, but the meaningful part of our self-discovery lies deep within us. We have an intrinsic need to share these feelings, but the reality of our return home is that we are destined to live alone with our incredible experience just as we lived alone during service.

Offline Marion

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 07:55:51 PM »
Well said Tom...   I think you are right and I could not have said it any better.
Marion
RPCV, Botswana (2011-2013)

Offline jbartimole

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2014, 04:50:23 PM »
The odd part is that, even 6 years later, I will sometimes get a whiff of wood smoke and I'll have a flashback to life in the village.

ME TOO! Weird things like the smell of exhaust, being in a sketchy city late at night, or other random smells. I've been back just over 5 years and I miss it everyday.
El Salvador '06-'08

Offline Amelia.Plant

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2014, 07:11:43 AM »
You did say it beautifully, Tom.  I found it helpful that my parents came to visit.  Even now, when I say I am going somewhere, they ask where and I have to remind myself that my parents know this country...at least a little bit.  It doesn't mean they know my stories, or like Tom said, those feelings that no one experienced but me, but at least they know the physical environment.

I have even had friends say to me that they don't understand my choice to live in another country, that they don't identify with that decision.  I knew then that I could never explain it to that person, and that is okay, because she can exist in my heart and my life in other ways without having to understand this part of me.  Yet, it does sometimes leave me feeling like there is a part of me that so many of my friends will never understand.  Perhaps that is why I am still here.
Amelia
RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013

Offline Philip Deutschle

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2014, 01:25:08 PM »
It seems that the transition back to life in the US can be depressing.  One of the reasons can be a type of postpartum depression--we've just been involved in a wonderful experience, and now it's over.  Friends and family have a hard time relating to our experiences.  Some even refuted the pictures I showed them, saying, "Yeah, but life in Nepal isn't like that now."  They asked superficial questions:  "How did you like it?" "Was it fun?"  They really just wanted to talk about the crazy things their cat did yesterday.  But the worst part is probably that the Peace Corps experience changes us in a way that home no longer feels like home.  Feeling alienated from your own home, after dreaming for two years about the joys of going home is devastating.  It can also be hard to go back to your PC village after years away.  I've made a documentary about this: http://kck.st/1iEuth2  but I won't give the ending away...

Offline PeaceCorps1

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Re: Weird things about returning
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2014, 03:09:04 AM »
I, too, found that no one wanted to hear my overseas stories. I think they feel that we are bragging and looking like big shots for doing something like Peace Corps.
"If it were not for the reporters, I'd tell you the truth"', President Chester A. Arthur