2001.02.18

Day one of the Defining Years.

After what seemed like days of flying in the belly of the metal bird, I have arrived for the first real challenge of my life. I am now a Peace Corps trainee. We arrived in the country about 21 hours ago, and already I? at a loss for words at what I see, feel, and understand.

We were put up in the Aristocrat hotel (room 204) that night and I?e now been moved to the Civic Inn, room 502. I avoided sleeping on the plane as much as possible, so slept well last night. It? now 21:30 and I? exhausted. Hopefully I?l fit into this time zone quickly.

I? amazed at how things work here. People stare at me when I walk down the street. People speak a language to me that I don? understand. I went to the cyber caf by rickshaw with others, using poor human power like a dog, only to be surrounded by 5 hungry girls all pleading for money or food, grabbing my hand and arms. My guide just led me away. I had plenty to give, but did not. Where would one start to help?

The way things get done is different here. Haggling, bribes, lack of traffic laws, it all disturbs me. Yes, it is disturbing! But I don? know if what I came from is any better. I don? know what to think. It? still a dream, still unreal. Even though I?e already begun to explore the streets, try out a few phrases, and begun training, I just don? know how to think of all this. I? exhausted and my head hurts and received shots and malarial drugs, and drunk lots of bottled water and I am just not thinking clearly. I was in shock, in adjustment, but do not feel that I won? come to like this place. We?e been sheltered so far, housed in the better part of town, given good food and training. I think more shocks are on their way.

There is much variety in the volunteers, although a quick poll this morning of 5 of us showed that we all voted for Nader. There are a variety of personalities and I find myself questioning my stereotypes of Americans. I don? know what to think of Bangladeshis yet and can? remember if I had a general consensus on them to begin with.

Too tired to continue . . .

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