The Peace Corps has three main goals.
1) To provide skilled individuals to countries in need.
2) To teach the assisted people’s about America and Americans.
3) To teach Americans about other cultures.
We think we are working on goal 2.5. We haven’t clearly defined goal 2.5 though. It might be bringing American culture to other developed nations, or maybe bringing Vanuatu to other developed nations or possible bringing other developed nations’ culture to America. We do all three and call it goal 2.5.
We spend a lot of time hanging out with other people from developed nations, mostly New Zealand, Australia and England, who are also volunteering here in Vanuatu. We have the Oxford, now called Project Teach Vanuatu, Volunteers who teach English in Melsisi and Science and Math in Ranwadi. We have the GAP or Latitude volunteers in Ranwadi who teach English. In January, we spent some time talking to the Teen Mission volunteers from Australia and New Zealand.
Every volunteer here has a different experience. The experience of living at a school is not the same as living in the village, which is not the same as living in Vila. Even our job descriptions change our experiences. The teachers, like Jason, have the school schedule to follow and things like timetables. The health volunteers, like me, have a job description that consists of “improve health in the area” which could be interpreted any number of ways and doesn’t lend itself to a work schedule.
Because of our living situation, we are bridging the school lifestyle and the village lifestyle. It has been great to be able to help groups like Teen Mission to see what the village looks like and what life in the village is. Bringing them to Vansemakul and up to the garden was an experience they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten while they were working on the school in Melsisi.
In the same way, by hanging out with the other volunteers, I get to find out what they make as cultural in-jokes. Ask someone from England about Percy Pig and why it was funny to name the pig we were eating for a feast Percy. As always, I love talking to people and learning more about how people tick. This is just one more way to see the world through someone else’s eyes.