Thursday, December 11, 2008

Accentuating the unfamiliar:

With all of the PCVs in town for Jerijery (10 of us total), we decided to celebrate Halloween. I assumed it was going to give us a reminder of home and help us feel somewhat normal. Kathryne (Environment PCV 12 km from Vavatenina) wanted to carve a pumpkin, she had candy and some decorations.
The overall effect was very different. The juxtaposition of the traditional American holiday in Madagascar actually highlighted the strangeness. I ended up trick-or-treating for M&Ms at my own house. We carved a giant papaya. It was a lot of fun, but the absurdity of the papaya especially was a stark reminder that we were half the world away.
Watching Barack Obama’s acceptance speech had the same effect. It was broadcast live from Chicago on a cool autumn evening but we watched it at 8am when its already 85 degrees outside. Every once in a while things like this happen to me and it is then that I feel the most isolated. I am already very accustomed to the way things are here. I just take it as it comes and it feels like home. But when I dwell on the past or future in the U.S.A., I am confronted by a dichotomy that makes me feel both homesick and excited to be having this experience.
November 9, 2008

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