Friday, August 13, 2010

Rhum in the Rice Paddies

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:)

12 comments:

  1. Hello Erica

    I am enjoying reading about your experiences. I am truly thankful that you had a safe trip over and now it seems as if you are getting into a way of life! Be safe and know that we are praying for you often! Mrs. Greene

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  2. Erica,

    You can thank me when you get home for exposing you to "old school" music. Remember all the "old school" quizzes you passed and those you failed on our daddy/daughter(s) trips. For example, who plays those lead guitar solos for the Isley Brothers? Oh and we can't begin to count the number of James Brown songs you have listened to(and loved). My point is, if you think back, your life's experience has enabled you to live, learn, grow, and apply those experience toward your future. I have never once entertained the notion that you can't handle this and anything else life has en-store for you. You also need to keep in mind that others are learning from you as you learn from them. Expose others to your culture, music, and the other wonderful things that make you Erica Wherry.

    P.S. You need to drop some James Brown on those lost souls!!! Pull them into the light and away from the dark side....Luke, I am your father!!!

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  3. Dearest Erica,

    I am so happy you sound happy! It is great hearing that your school is in such a beautiful area and that you have already met your counter part there as well. Hooray for electricity, cell phones and internet service! I can't wait to see pictures of everything.

    much love,
    mom

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  4. Erica! Thank you for blogging. I am enjoying reading your posts. ahh the fated "only black girl experience" interesting one isn't it. Seems like you're getting along nicely though, and I'm not surprised at all. Super proud of you girlie. Lots of love and prayers going your way. -Samara

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  5. This will be interesting Erica! I wish u the best ... ill be keeping up with ur blog. Exciting!

    Lima

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  6. ERICA!!!!! I like reading about how your experience is going (glad you got the internet out there!). It sounds like you're trying to get adjusted to your "new life" and I'm sure as the days go on you will soon love it there (hehe). With that being said me and Rob are gonna prepare a great care package for you around the time of homecoming soooo get ready!!

    -Gina

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  7. Darling daughter,

    I am thinking of you and praying for you. I know that you will continue to grow as a person and that this experience will be one that you will treasure forever. You make me proud!

    much love,
    mom

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  8. Hi Erica, I loved your latest blog. I could really feel you. In my past work life I was "the only one" on many occasions. Fortunately, God always provided what I needed. Seems He did the same for you. Sounds like you are with a wonderful group of people. I am praying for you all. Can't wait to see some pictures of you, your group and your students. God bless you and know that you are bathed in prayers. Can't wait to hear from you. Valencia Adams

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  9. ERICA!!!!!!!!!! Miss u gurl!!!!

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  10. Erica, I miss you so much! I'm so glad your mom posted your blog address so I can stay up to date on your experiences. I am so proud of you. I'll simply share our memories of being abroad in Spain til I am able to travel with you again! Can't wait for pictures!

    Brittany

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  11. Erica,

    I was just sitting here watching NASCAR and thought about you. We just back earlier today from Savannah where Heritage’s volleyball team went 3-2 for the tournament. They were in all the matches but sort of self destructed in the two they lost. I got some really nice shots of “Sky Rae”. I also brought back 3 pounds of garlic crabs(your mama’s SUV now smells like crabs) and some leftover food from this restaurant out pass the Savannah Mall. We saw the most beautiful sunset at that seafood restaurant. The sun was bright orange and was shining down on the river in a straight line between two trees. It was really nice, however I had just taken my camera out of the car; a missed opportunity for a great photo. On my next trip there, I will have to go back and get that shot. Since the sun is not going anywhere(hopefully) and the restaurant has been there since 1947, I think I will have another opportunity. They shot the Forrest Grump bridge scene with that blue truck from there. I think it was where he stopped running and decided to go home.
    We also visited Georgia Southern Friday evening, that is a very nice looking school sitting on a large campus. Did you know Georgia Southern also offers 114 majors? All they’re dorm rooms were new, big, and had central air too. However your sister does not want to go to a college in a small town. My argument that most colleges are located in small towns fell on 4 deaf ears. So I gave up and told her I told her where ever she decides to go I will support her.

    Expect a CARE package in the mail soon we are collecting stuff for another one real soon.
    Love you,
    Daddy

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  12. Hi Erica! I can only imagine the wonderful experience you are having in Madagascar. Have you made any unique friends from the animal kingdom. I already know you have human friends. But do we have in the making a possible future film being in the works called "Erica of the Jungle" or "ERICA, Queen of the Beast", or something softer like "Erica's heartbeat for Creator and Creature"

    May the hand of Him who is large enough to hold us all continue to uphold you and protect you while you are away from us.
    Bye for now,
    Michael Pigg

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