I spent the last month away from Uganda, but I don’t think that makes it irrelevant; it’s all part of the journey…
I was surprised at how quickly things felt normal again in America. I worried initially that this meant I wasn’t immersed enough in Ugandan culture. But I think it’s just that some things never change, especially when it comes to family. I couldn’t get enough of my siblings, good wine, driving, the snow… And what a luxury to spend an afternoon at a coffee shop chatting with girlfriends and blending in with the crowd!
A few times I was hit with reverse culture shock, which we are told is often more difficult than making the initial adjustments here. I think the first time was when I went to Target with my Mom on my second day home, and she was in a rush and hurrying me through every department. But I just couldn’t make a decision. Actually, I couldn’t even really comprehend the variety and quantity of what was in front of me. I think she was annoyed, but there were 18 types of yoga pants and there was no way I could choose one in three minutes. I didn’t even attempt the seemingly endless aisles of cosmetic products. Regardless to say, I left with nothing on that first trip. (A few weeks later I tried again, and successfully bought up all the Dove chocolate, new tank tops, and Burt’s Bees I could get my hands on!)
Smart phones must have taken off in the past year. Now you can do things like send silly pictures that disappear 7 seconds after they’re received and accentuate your text messages with graphics of palm trees or dalmatians or clapping hands (SO FUN). You can give your phone verbal instructions and it will do what you say. My brothers got a kick out of my pay-as-you-go flip phone that doesn’t even have a camera.
There were also more serious moments where I was sad and confused and couldn’t stop thinking about how unequally all the different components of privilege are parcelled out at birth. Though mostly I tried to avoid that type of stuff and just made fun of myself for not knowing about anything that’s considered cool anymore.
So cheers to my family & friends for bringing me up to speed on the last year in the first world. My trip came as close as it could get to perfect. More than anything, it made me feel insanely grateful for the all of the beautiful people in my life and for the beautiful country I get to run home to for good next year. Still, for now, I’m glad to be back. I have unfinished business here, so much more I want to do, and jumping back into the simple life in Uganda feels right. I feel refreshed and motivated and, better yet, like I’m exactly where I need to be.
Save all your love for your family.
[African Proverb – Ethiopia]