“We often feel discouraged, disconnected, disappointed, aloof, out-of-if, and sometimes just plain weird after arriving home. . . You realize that you really don’t fit quite as perfectly in your “home culture” holes as you did before.”
–Howard and Bonnie Lisech
I am not adjusting very well to my old life. Even after only two weeks in Zambia, I find myself withdrawn, irritable, and easily frustrated by my home country. Minor things like waiting 15 minutes for a table at the Olive Garden leave me fuming. Strange considering all the inconveniences that didn’t bother me much in Zambia. I suppose my expectations of my home country are much higher. I’m having difficulty processing the trip, and I think that makes my reentry that much more difficult. I’ve not been able to articulate my thoughts well, and that is unusual for me. Over and over, I return to an issue of contentment. Something about being in Zambia for two weeks leaves me discontented here in the U.S. What do I have to be upset about? I have air conditioning, a hot shower, clean water, a car to take me anywhere I want to go. Why am I so ungrateful? Maybe it’s hard to live among a people soaked in poverty for two weeks and simply pick life up again, as if they don’t exist 10,000 miles away. I still don’t really grasp the depth of the poverty that exists around the world. We met people in Zambia who eat only once or twice a week, who live in huts, who can’t afford to send their children to public school because it costs more money than they make in a year. I make more money working for an hour filling in at our urgent care center than many of the residents of Kawama earn working two jobs in a year. It’s ridiculous. Not only that, but I find my family and friends in the U.S. working hard just to make ends meet. My parents are struggling to pay their debts with two sons in college, and my wonderful nurse gave her notice yesterday because she can’t afford to support her family on the meager salary that we pays her. She can make twice the amount working as a nurse at a prison in her hometown. My country ought to have this right by now. What do I do about this? How does this continue? There ought to be enough to go around.