We are all only people… 27 August 2017

Sitting in the early morning on my friend’s balcony, looking up at the glowing yellow clouds: illuminated from the side by the soft light of the rising sun, surrounded by the subdued splendor of a sleepy sky adjusting to wakefulness – like me. Sipping coffee, appreciative that the hour of my awakening coincides with the natural rhythm of the earth in its slow spin. I belong here, in the place, at this time, and the birds tell me so, and the breeze tells me so, and the faraway view of the sea tells me.

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I think of the beauty in all this, the relaxed feeling it gives me. My mind wanders to recent conversations with people, conversations during which deeper feelings were revealed, shared experiences realized, support given. People are only people through other people. We lift each other up. We would be nothing without each other. There is a certain beauty within humanity. This thought makes me happy, but also…

I ask myself: why does the beauty within humanity have the seemingly contradictory effect of bringing feelings of sadness? I ask the question to my friend, also sipping coffee, staring out towards the sea. It’s sad because that beauty is so fleeting, so infrequent.

It’s true. And that can also make it extraordinary, which is powerful. But it still leaves us with the fact that humanity is lacking. While we experience small kindnesses, levels of connection, solace and support, from our family and friends and even some strangers on the street, there is still a disturbing lack of appreciation within humanity – of care for our fellow human beings.

People forget that they are only people through other people; people forget what it means to be human; people forget that we all need love and a helping hand, are therefore the same, equal in that basic fact; people forget to forgive. The world out there, the world right here, suffers from a lack of appreciation. Humanity suffers from it.

We all need to take a step back, understand how we coincide with the natural rhythm of the earth, see the beauty of the rising sun, see how it illuminates the rest of the world and brings a sense of belonging to everything it touches. We all need to be touched by that light, be beautiful ourselves, and radiate it out to others. We all need solace and support; we all need love and understanding; we are all only human; we are all only people made people by other people.

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It has been well over a month since my last entry, and a lot has happened both here and everywhere else it seems. As people have been killing each other, and hating each other, and living in fear and anger, I’ve been connecting to some of my friends here in those deeper ways that let a person feel the beauty that can exist within humanity. And it’s there, that beauty, but it can be so fleeting, so ephemeral, one can easily lose sight of its importance. I feel lucky to have seen it, felt it, and realized it as the world seemingly struggles to remember…

We all know what has been happening everywhere else, so here is a little bit about what has been happening here, in my life. I spent three long weeks in Morogoro, a lovely town beneath a majestic mountain. They were long weeks, and quite a journey, but they were filled with both formal and informal interactions with other volunteers, which is what I love most about this job.

The first two weeks were spent organizing, managing, facilitating, and leading parts of the early service training for the health/agriculture 2017 volunteers. Our team worked together to provide a meaningful experience of capacity and relationship building for volunteers and their counterparts. Some of my favorite sessions throughout the two weeks: permagardening, making tree nurseries, and budding and grafting, all with our master agriculture trainer…

Following the early service training are various optional in-service trainings. Together with the gender PCVL and the Ag training team, I stayed to help manage and facilitate the food security-focused training on gender and agribusiness, bees and chickens. Not only did volunteers and their counterparts receive training on beekeeping and chicken-raising, they also focused on how to get women involved in the business of bees and chickens, and why it is important to do so.

We taught about gender in agriculture in the context of Tanzania, best business practices including budgeting/record keeping/marketing, and also facilitation skills to give the participants the ability to return to their communities and teach others.

My hope is to be able to travel out in the coming months to visit the sites of volunteers who attended the training. I’ll be doing follow-ups and check-ins while also collecting pictures and video clips for a media project. This will be a short movie showcasing the PCTZ agriculture sector, revealing the lives of volunteers, and the process of going from a training back into the community with their counterparts to plan and implement projects.

By displaying the different stages of project implementation following a training, and by interviewing both volunteers and counterparts, I hope to paint a picture of what life is like for volunteers here in Tanzania, and to showcase how and in what ways the Peace Corps process of small-scale development is so impactful.

Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is a long-term commitment, one that takes you up and down and all around. But it’s worth it. I would love to help others who have never personally experienced it to see, and try to understand, why we decide to make such a commitment and why it matters.

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Understanding is the first step to peace, after all: an understanding of ourselves; an understanding of how we each fit into the world; an understanding that we are all only human; an understanding that we are all only people made people by other people…

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