On my way to Lilongwe for the JF huddle this weekend, I stopped in Blantyre for a night.
After being the only mzungu (white person) in Chikwawa for a while, it was an interesting experience to be surrounded by other non-Malawians at the guesthouse.
I stayed at Doogles, which is known for being an expat location and true to its reputation, it was teeming with mostly development workers from the UK, America, Japan…
Talking with some of the other lodgers, it occurred to me that even though EWB’s work in Malawi is facilitation and not as a donor or implementer, I was essentially the same as so many of the peers I met that night. University students spending a few months between studies at a developing country. Working in the international development field. All of our projects sounded so innovative and hopeful. But isn’t it always like that on the surface level? What kinds of ripple effects are we actually leaving behind? Or rather a tidal wave since there are so many of us?
I actually felt a bit out of place being in such a Western setting again and spent most of my time speaking to the Zimbabwean bartender rather than to try to be social with the other azungu (mzungu plural). Perhaps this is what reintegration is going to be like? I don’t know if I’ve ever believed in reverse culture shock before but yesterday made me wonder… Maybe it is so very real.
Anyways. I’m at the bus terminal to board the coach to Lilongwe. These were just some thoughts that were running through my head last night.
Today’s Culture Shock: Rastas (Rastafarians) smoke weed. Some people also smoke weed and chamba. Chewing chamba is also a thing. The guard at my office snorts Tobacco. Some men smoke tobacco. Women usually snort tobacco rather than smoking it apparently. Chewing tobacco is not really a thing. And nobody seems to understand when I ask them about getting “high.”