Peace Corps has 3 goals. Goal 1 is basically “work,” activities regarding health, education and agriculture. But the second two goals are all about sharing Gambian culture with Americans and American culture with Gambians. I can’t think of a better way to do this than by hosting my Dad in my village home for a week of exploring, farming, and chatting.
This was not an easy feat. After two days of airline travel, a karaoke birthday party, and one day to catch his breath, we were headed on the ferry to the other side of the river. He spent five days getting to know the ins and outs of the village where I live and a few surrounding villages. The first morning it took us hours to even walk to the clinic because we had to stop and greet everyone along the way (something that I do everyday, but people had a lot more questions this time, all in a language he didn’t understand). When we got to the clinic, he got a short tour before we went off and joined a group of women at the farm. The excitement didn’t stop for the rest of the week.
We met with village leaders and elders, ate lunch in the communal food bowl with my host family, drank attaya tea, visited gardens and farms, went to the local market, and fielded about 100 marriage proposals. The most important moments were the ones spent not really doing anything, just sitting and chatting with people and each other. It’s something that the people in my village won’t soon forget, and neither will I.
It’s hard to conceptualize something without experiencing it, and I’m extremely grateful that my Dad had the opportunity to come and experience my Gambian home and to meet some of my favorite people.