A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

On Being Special

When we were preparing to finish up our Peace Corps service we were told about some of the things that were going to affect us when we got back to America. One was the fact that not many people would think we were so special anymore. This may sound strange but after 2 years of being openly stared at, called after, invited as the guest of honor, made to give important impromptu speeches and given many heartfelt gifts on a weekly basis just because of the color of your skin and citizenship, walking down the street and not being noticed was going to be an adjustment.

In Uganda, there were many moments I hated being called mzungu and always being different. Now, I'm in America and finding moments where I wish people would notice the white color of my skin and push me to the front of the line. Though the full brunt of this hasn't completely settled in yet because of my dear mom. You see, my mom walks with a cane. A cane in America is almost like being white in Uganda. People part like the Red Sea when they see a woman coming with a cane.

Last weekend we went to the Science Museum of Minnesota to see the traveling King Tut exhibit and go to the Omnitheater. A certain number of people were let in to the exhibit at a time and you had to have tickets for specific times. Well we wanted the best seats and good positions to start the tour. I suggested slipping someone a little bribe. My mom just smiled and said, "Watch how I do it!" She hobbled up to the nice museum people making sure to lean heavily on her cane and before you knew it, we were moved to the front of the line and let in first! Without paying anyone!

While my mom actually needs a cane and special modifications, the color of my skin isn't such a reason for being given extra attention. It is a little bit of an adjustment but for now, I'm happy to use my mom as the means to get what I want, when I want it. Ha ha. I guess I have a few issues to work on.

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