Fighting Poverty with Passion
February 23, 2014 to March 1, 2014 marked Peace Corps week this year. The past eight months working with the Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA program has given me an opportunity to see the whole of this great city, in a way I would not have been able to achieve previously. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV Lesotho 2009-2011) I thought I knew what I was getting into when I signed up to move to a completely new region of the US and dedicate one year of my life to service in education. What I could not prepare for was just how similar and different the two experiences were. Before deciding to uproot my life and move, the furthest south I had ever traveled was South Carolina. Being from the great state of Rhode Island I thought that was “The South.” I have since been proven so wrong that I can’t help but laugh at my own misconceptions.
One of the first things I had to learn after living in New Orleans and working in the Bywater community was how to understand the language. When living in Lesotho (Leh-Sue-Two) I had to learn Sesotho (Seh-Sue-Two). When living in New Orleans I had to learn a whole new vocabulary; What is a lagniappe? Who do you stay by? What school did you go to? What is actually in gumbo? Even the street names here conspire to get unwary visitors tongue-tied and confused. Though after six months, the language becomes second nature and I look for a new challenge and for me that challenge is food.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a picky eater, and this is true. It can all be explained easily enough, I like to cook and I’ve reached the point where I like to eat my cooking more than I like going out to eat. However, there are so many new dishes to learn how to cook here, that I have to try someone else’s recipe before I even attempt to cook it for myself. I love the adventure and the experimentation of it all.
Last but not least, one of the most important factors in being a part of a service organization would have to be the friends one makes while serving. There is something intrinsically binding about being in a service organization with other like-minded individuals. The only people who truly understand your struggles and frustrations will always be the people who have gone through similar situations.
After living in the great city of New Orleans for eight months I have found that one year is definitely not enough time to fully appreciate what this city has to offer so I have decided to stick around for a little longer. New Orleans you’ve hooked another one in your net.