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My initiation into the African way of life

The Peace Corps Chronicles, Part 2

My Initiation

With the quest for vision underway, it was now time to make action speak louder than words. So, I visited the nearest optometrist which is 70 kilometers from my village. He is a Botswana doctor, currently working abroad, and after discussing my needs, the arrangements were made.

There would be an initial screening free-of-charge and a follow-up examination for those with vision issues. Then we would pull together a plan to fund the glasses they would need. I had good impressions from the doctor and was proud of my bold steps towards solving this problem.

Working as a volunteer in Africa, my mindset and expectations have changed since leaving the States. My days here can be life-affirming and welcoming but then there is always another side. This is the part where work doesn’t get done how you want it or the pace of progress slowly drips. This is neither an accusation nor a complaint but rather it’s a way of describing life in another country.

Foreigners coming to work abroad often have to readjust their mentalities coming from a fast-paced, insanely competitive homeland. But as Namibia, and let me say Africa, can attest to, life isn’t always about success but resilience.

This is one of many things I’ve learned in that Africa can teach you lessons you thought you already knew. Lessons that make you realize what can be important in life.

Now, back to the story, I left the doctor, who was seemingly reliable and trustworthy, and I proceeded to arrange with the school for the upcoming visits. You can probably sense my foreboding as the path to your destination always has curves, bump, and obstacles.

Otherwise, things will be too easy and few lessons learned. Unbeknownst to me, the future plans will need a slight adjustment…

The Peace Corps Chronicles are written by Spencer Mandzik who joined the Corps in Feb 2010 as a volunteer in Namibia, Africa. He is living with a local family and learning to speak the language of Oshiwambo. These are his stories as he follow’s John F. Kennedy’s dream to serve our country “in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries.”

Read Part 1 – A quest for vision in Namibia

That's Namibia in red.