Who Am I?

Reflections on my one year anniversary of joining the Peace Corps…

Who am I?
I am acuriosity to be stared at.   An animal at the petting zoo.
What strange straight hair she has. I wonder what that red dot on her arm feels like. Feel those blue lines on her legs.  Look in her mouth – she has gold teeth! Those glasses help her see.
Look at how awkward she is climbing into the tro. Watch how she tries to squat.

Who am I?
I am a rich person. A person with more material goods than a single person needs.

Bring me bread. Give me a pencil. Give me money. Feed me rice.
I need a phone. My bike doesn’t work. Do you have a computer?
I want your skirt. Give me your dress.
Take my picture.

Who am I?
I am a celebrity. I’m easy to spot from a distance.
Children smile, wave, and yell, “Hello, Madam!” when they see me.
Their parents want to be seen talking to me.

I get preferential treatment – sitting in the front seat of a tro, moving to the front of a queue.

Who am I?
I am a the “smart” person. The person with a different knowledge set than most people in Jumbo.
A man gives me a small coin: What coin is this?  How much is it worth?
A boy hands me a green digital watch with a broken strap.  He points at the blinking numbers – confident I can fix it.
A highway department worker and I talk about road repairs. He is impressed that I know the term “asphalt.” Are you an engineer?

Who am I?
I am a unknowledgable foreigner. Ignorant of facts every eight-year old Ghanaian learns at his mother’s knee or from his father’s farm.
She asked if the cassava plant was a yam.
She didn’t greet me when I walked by her house.
She paid twice as much as I did when she bought tomatoes.
She said, “Good morning!” at six in the evening.

Who am I?
I am a grandmother. A girl grabs my legs in a bear hug. A boy climbs on my lap for a story.
I am a mother. I soothe a crying toddler and brush away her tears. I tell a child to go to school.
I am an aunt. I teach a child how to sew with a needle and thread.
I am a friend. I share my sewing machine and sewing skills with my neighbor.
I am a sister. I greet my PCV sisters with hugs to show them I care.
I am a daughter. I reassure my mother that I am safe and healthy.
I am a grandchild. I have so much to learn.

Who am I?
I am a student.
I learn something everyday.
I re-learn facts and maxims that didn’t stick.
I take notes and study.
I read books. I attend classes.
I ask questions and listen.
I learn by living.

Who am I?
I am a teacher.
I help others learn about health, water, hygiene, and sanitation.
I write stories to make everyday events come alive.
I tell Ghanaians about life in America.
I describe living in Ghana – the food, the customs, the people – so Americans can understand life in West Africa.

Who am I?
I am a reader. With plenty of time to read.
I am a writer. With plenty of new experiences to write about.

Who am I?
I am a Peace Corps Volunteer. The only non-Ghanian living in my small rural community or the nearby market town.
I provide a link between community needs and organizations or processes that can help meet those needs.
I give people a hand-up rather than a hand-out.
I help people help themselves to improve their lives.

I am a curiosity, the rich person, the celebrity.
I am the smart person who teaches, the unknowing person who learns.
I am a relative and friend.
I am a reader and a writer.
I am a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I am living a dream life.

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17 Responses to Who Am I?

  1. be_taylor says:

    Happy anniversary you marvelous, many-sided person!!

    Barb

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

  2. barbson says:

    You are an awesome inspiration and a blessing in my life. You are indeed a superb teacher & a very descriptive travel guide. I am a very grateful person to have met you & thankful to be able to share our daily lives. I am overweight from the holidays & waiting for my 8 week boot camp groupon to print today! Baby elephant!!! I found a $200.00 formal at Ross for $26.00(10% senior discount-Yeah) that I want to wear for the American Heart Association’s Cotes du Coeur on April 6th Rich person, smart shopper, & will look like a celebrity in this dress! I HOPE to find my niche in life that I may too be an inspiration & a blessing to others student, granddaughter, wanderer

    To: bnelson13@verizon.net Subject: [New post] Who Am I?

    lsmittle posted: “Reflections on my one year anniversary of joining the Peace Corps… Who am I? I am an animal at the petting zoo. A curiosity to be stared at and touched. What strange straight hair she has. I wonder what that red dot on her arm feels like. Feel thos”

  3. Jackie Wald says:

    Choice of words leaves impressive impact. Beautiful writing.

  4. sharon says:

    You have made a huge difference to so many people in your first year. I look forward to your second year adventures. What an amazing life you are living

  5. jeannie says:

    Little did you know one year ago you would write something like this.

    • lsmittle says:

      So true, Jeannie. I thought I might be writing something more along the lines of, “Having a great time. Wish you were here.”

      But I find my writing is more like, “Having an incredibly amazing time. Since you are not here, let me try to describe my wonderful life for you.”

  6. gabriele says:

    Yeah you are!

    Dream on….

  7. bill carter says:

    Well…seems I’ll have to finish up where you left off. Your list is incomplete and unacceptable.

    Who Are You?

    You are living our dream here in the states.
    You are highly revered by those who know you.
    Your accomplishments do not dissapoint and continue to astound us.
    You can adapt, make do and survive.
    Your personal strength, foresight, determination and personality is wonderful.
    As you teach us about life where you are, we are also learning about you as well. Both are very impressive.
    You are adventurous, bold…not at all intimated by the unknown or trying something new.
    You seem to have issues getting your money after it is sent to you.
    You seem to have issues keeping the 4 legged creatures out of your garden.
    You are not yet accomplished with using the new method of cleaning out the snot locker.

    Well…that about enought of this. This is a short list. More could be added if I had time.

  8. Beth. says:

    Thanks Linda! You are an inspiration to me, I am truly blessed to know you. I can’t believe it’s been a year, so many great adventures! I’m looking forward to hearing more!

  9. Ed Hassler says:

    Your “Who Am I is particularly good. Thank you!

    Ed

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