I’ve arrived in Akron and had a day and a half of orientation so far. My roommate is from Zimbabwe (which ajoins Zambia, for those of you not up on African geography), and we’ve had a number of really interesting conversations: “So Americans even wash their pants/underwear in the washing machine, too? We hand-wash it every night. Your underwear is very personal; you wouldn’t want someone else washing it.” “How much do groceries cost for a family for a week? And how many people is a family?” (She said ~$50 for a family of eight. I’m not sure if this is USD or Zimbabwean dollars, and if there is a notable difference, but it didn’t seem important enough to ask.) “Do you have [this particular brand of makeup] in the States?” That one was interesting because I had no idea what she was talking about, and even though we both speak English, if we aren’t careful, the words just glide off each others’ ears, the accents and stresses are so different. And the Ndebele accent aside, it’s British English (bath-ing, not bathe-ing; trousers, not pants (pants, not underwear); spectacles, not glasses, and so on.)
Perhaps I should back up a little for more explanation. SALT participants (me, among others), are oriented along with IVEP participants, who are young adults from other countries who will be serving in the US and Canada. So we have 96 young adults running around, about 2/5 international and 3/5 North American (I don’t know how many SALT people are from Canada, maybe 1/4?), which makes for a very interesting, vibrant, and exhausting mix. We all have name tags, but I still feel like I don’t know anyone’s name. And I know that I do recognize people, but for every person I recognize, there are three that I know I played frisbee with yesterday, or talked to for fifteen minutes about going to Indonesia two hours ago, or discussed Arabic names with over breakfast, whose names I don’t remember, which can be terribly frustrating if I’m not careful. I’m sure it’s good practice, though. And it feels like camp. Or my first week at Smith. Lots of meeting new people and informational sessions and an odd feeling of not-quite-the-real-world.
The sessions so far have been of varying interest, and I’m sure they are, on the whole, useful, but one only has so much attention in the day, and I’ll admit that it was a lot of work to continue listening to the program director go on about the early history of MCC . . .
I must dash.