"every man who knows a things knows he knows not a damn damn thing at all"--well, as much as I would just love to attribute this life truth to myself I do have to give k'naan a majority of the credit for this. this statement captures the essence of the peace corps experience, however,--I'm about to leave for Namibia (on Monday night btw) and thats all I know because the adventure that awaits me is, well, unfathomable. Some people have asked me why did I join the Peace Corps? I follow up with the only obvious question that comes to mind: Why wouldn't I?
Now that I finally finished packing and rolling each and every last pair of boxers and piece of memorabilia that just might provide that necessary comfort on those seemingly lonely nights, I'm sitting here hoping that several hours of packing and months of preparation have been sufficient for a 2+ year journey to south west Africa--Namibia to be precise. And as if that task wasn't daunting enough, I am now faced with one that is much more insurmountable--articulating the thoughts, emotions, fears, and excitement that is swishing around in my body (hows that for an action verb, eh?!)
"Let's get it started!"-- those words so carefully and masterfully articulated by the black eyed peas --says it best--IT'S TIME! So here it is-- the start of the Peace Corps journey to Namibia and now that I think about it, this journey began a long time ago! It began in 913 (still waiting' for that tattoo boys), it began (with that oh so famous catalyst!) with 7 of us spontaneously signed up for the alt breaks trip to NOLA, it began when sup and I stayed up all night to discuss the prospects of peace (and then got matching tattoos to seal the deal), it continued as I explored the world of CZECHS and the asiago race with my beautiful love, it continued with some Gambian crazy 8's, it continued in the Hamptons with fellow rat packers (alright I do realize that I'm stretching it) and now here I am watching Roseanne listening to GAGA and about to shed that tear that represents the uncertainty that awaits me. But its that uncertainty that has driven me here in the first place.
While I have been on the road to the Peace Corps--one that is sure to bring unprecedented challenges, adventures, and lifelong friends…its important that I ground myself in the values that inspired the beginning of this journey in the first place: that of universal human bonds, service as a mutual exchange, service as a means to increase capacity building, and that finding human to human connections encompasses what it means to live while in Namibia and beyond.
In a world that is becoming increasingly flat (as one times reporter poetically termed it)…it has has become paradoxically and sadly at times divided--sometimes our ignorance, whether purposefully or not, hardens these divisions which is why the mission of the Peace Corps is quite timely--bring people together on the basis of humanity and work together to slowly but so significantly allow for a world that's more peaceful and understanding than the one we left behind.
So this is where YOU come in! You, in this case, has a very broad meaning (cause, yes, I am trying to rake in the followers) anyway, please FOLLOW ME on my adventure because this journey was not merely meant for me to experience…rather, its a journey that I seek to share with friends in Namibia and all of you! Am I corny? Just checkin'!
For those of you who gave me a blank stare when I told you I was headed to Namibia here's a brief overview of the country:
its history is rich and yet tragic at the same time, the people of Namibia have experienced the difficult realities of colonization and exploitation at the hands of the Germans and amidst this period faced the first genocide of modern history in 1904--the Hereo tribe, in their refusal to allow Germans to infiltrate their lands and demonize their people rose up and yet suffered grave deaths in the Holocaust precursor
the end of the German empire only saw the beginning of South African rule and apartheid
the apartheid system and inherent inequalities between race and nation ushered in a movement (and violent conflict) centered on freedom and independence ultimately resulting in the establishment of a free Namibian state in 1990
today Namibia celebrates a press that is freer than any other on the continent and a nation bent on becoming the beacon of democracy and development on the continent
Despite the rapid growth of democracy, problems within the education system (in which I will soon become a member of) have been apparent--from unqualified teachers, to high drop out rates, to lack of necessary supplies, but the list will certainly grow as I throw myself into the system
oh and need I mention that Branjelina gave birth to Shiloh here and Chelsea Clinton honeymooned here….NBD...TMI
Sam Rioux asked me a question recently: is the continent ready for you Matt Francolino? I suppose I'll find out in a matter of days!