Is there a “typical Peace Corps experience?” Does it include an adobe, mud, or stick hut surrounded by goats and dark skinned children playing in the dirt while bare breasted girls and mothers grind grain for porridge? Is there a latrine in the scene? A snake in the grass where an ass may pass? Does a classroom loom where school uniforms are the norm? And to that one must add a fresh college grad with a new life style and a great big smile? Bright and white?
For many Americans who know anything about the Peace Corps that is the common image of “the PCV experience.” And it is the experience of other PCVs in Namibia today, especially some who teach in rural villages.
But it is not our Peace Corps experience these six months in Africa.
Barbara and I are not in the Education sector, we are not residents of a rural area, nor are we “younger than springtime.” Our sector is Business, our residence has all the creature comforts (although the only creatures around here are dogs and the occasional, little lizard), and I was not awarded my MBA last year but, rather, forty-six years ago.
Here in one of the country’s largest towns our rented flat is near the business center of a fragmented community of about 21,000 people. For comparison, Deerfield Township, Ohio is home to about 28,000. We enjoy city sewers, water, electricity, internet, TV, sanitation, trash removal, a few street lights, fire and police services and one “robot” which is what they call the automatic, 4-way traffic signal in the center of town…at Central Park and 5th Avenue, no less.
Our business development work is with small to medium size enterprises (SMEs). I work with a few people who want my help starting small businesses. We both work with Karas Huisen Crafts, about which you can read in my previous posts.
Our closest friends here are still Americans, i.e. the three other PCVs in town. Last night we enjoyed having them over for dinner along with a delightful German woman who has befriended us all. And we are developing good relationships with some local folks all of whom are business related and of various ethnic origins such as http://www.mixedfolks.com/africa.htm
This morning Barbara went jogging and I prepared our usual Saturday breakfast, scrambled eggs on bread. At 9:30 our friend and language tutor, Carina, came over for a 2-hour session in Afrikaans…with a good measure of English thrown in for socializing. Later we did some budgeting, had lunch and went shopping at Shoprite which is a 6-8 minute walk. So now it is a relaxing Saturday afternoon – turning to evening. Sien julle later!