I have had good interactions and horrible interactions..
Examples of what I mean:
Just to brush the surface, the week started off with a 10 hour bus ride back from last weeks training – I had a woman tell me that she believes that all children in America carry guns (due to the things that she has seen on TV) – and me and my friends had a man lecture us on being racist (because we refused to give him food).
On the other end I met some of my close-mates work partners who seem to be genuinely great people (which you need an occasional dose of) – had a much needed girls lunch and market day, and I made friends with a woman who dyes her own fabrics in Porto Novo (and I am super excited to go see her shop soon!)
Even if sometimes our day to day interactions as Peace Corps Volunteers can be challenging, it is important to remember why we are here. We are here because we want to make a difference. One of the most important differences that we can make is changing the negative opinions (that an unfortunate number of people have) pertaining to Americans and American culture. Every week we hear things that are hard to hear, and see things that are hard to see. It is difficult to live in a culture so incredible different, but we were told that coming in.
So I had a rough week BUT – it ended with a party!
All is well that ends well, right?
Weme (aka Oueme) is the valley region that I live in, and Wemexwe is your equivalent of your typical County Fair. Only in Benin.
The fete took place in the village of Adjohoun. I went with two other volunteers. We were a little uncertain going in because we were not able to get our hand on any of the fete tissu – it sold out very fast – but once we got there and saw that we really weren't the only ones – the “our we properly dressed” concerns quickly faded.
The fete was huge – giant tents were set up where people had brought their own chair, blankets, and food (basically family picnics). The event was a four days the biggest day being Sunday (the day we went). The morning started with a mass (that we opted out of) and then the festivities continued with dancers, performers, musicians, vodun fetishes, super friendly vendors and lots of food and drink. People were forced to park their cars and walk about a half mile to the party, because it was just that crowded. What an amazing day full of cultural experiences and awesome people.
Multiple people have told me today that they saw me and my friends at the fete –
I guess we stand out or something.