Thursday, May 14, 2009

Outbound for Liberia

Preparing for my long-awaited departure for Liberia, two pieces of advice have guided my thoughts. My first day in Bulgaria, our Country Director recommended that we "leave all our expectations at the door." If anything could have defined my Peace Corps experience, that was it. The idea that we could somehow be prepared to understand the challenges and rewards that each of our unique skill sets would bring to the communities we lived in was premature. It would take us months to realize that more-so than any language barrier, "success" was impeded by our belief that what worked in American communities would work in Bulgaria. Only when we abandoned our ideas about how to cut and paste American examples onto the current community were we able to help Bulgaria address its development needs in a way that was more inclusive and more sustainable.

I know that no matter what I do today or how many books I've read about Liberia, when I step off the plane in Monrovia, I will be stunned. For me, the only way to proceed is to simply accept that, and to be ready to adapt.

The second piece of advice was to bring rain boots. While some people may bless the rain down in Africa, hopefully these boots will keep me from cursing it!


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