This is going to be a post which describes MY feelings in Mcar. This post shouldnt offend anyone, but in case it does, I will reiterate that this blog is a reflection of the feelings of Erica Wherry and does not represent the Peace Corps or US government in any way.
Now, before coming to Peace Corps, I lived in Atlanta ( Black ), graduated from Spelman College ( Black) and was a member of the AME Zion church ( Black). Despite this, previous to now, I still felt as though I had led a fairly integrated experience. I went to a mixed high school, danced ballet until the 10th grade and actually enjoyed outdoor water sports, for example. I realize these interests dont necessarily scream "integrated experience" but they are the only examples I can think of now. Despite this, I never had the " only black girl" experience. But, I do believe that I am officially having this experience now.
My fellow trainees and I were headed on a road trip out of our training town. In college, my friends and I had numerous road trips ( namely FAMU/TSU or anywhere else HCASC took us). These trips are actually responsible for some of my most memorable college experiences. So, here I am in Mcar with a whole bunch of people whom I do not know all that well and who are listening to music that I do not know AT ALL. It really made me feel very disconnected and isolated from the group on top of already being in a country where I am disconnected from the culture and the language of the people. It seemed that the entire bus was familiar with the music they were playing, but me. My mind began to wonder about whether or not I could really be happy in a group where we dont even share common ground (or familiarity) on something as simple as musical choice. I was really being extra emotional about it.
But, not even within 10 mins of my thinking about how disconnected I was, a member of my PC training group turns on an Al Green song. I kid you not, the entire bus sings this really old school r & b song and I instantly realize that I am in a unique position, having to integrate into two cultures. But, American culture is American culture. Even though people may come from different backgrounds within the US framework, the fact that we are still Americans binds us tightly together and most especially when all familiarity has been stripped away. Im learning to deal, but its a gradual process and one that I am thankful to be having with the really amazing group of people that I am with now:)