Friday, December 19, 2008

Swearing-In

I keep thinking that next time I'll really plan out the blog post ahead of time, really get what I want to say down on paper first, and then fine tune it when I get to the Internet cafe. But that ignores the reality of my access to the Internet here, which is fairly random.

So, it's been an eventful couple of weeks. First and foremost, our training ended, and with it our time in Kukuruntomi (the training community in the Eastern Region where we've been for the last three months). We were sworn in as full Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) by the American Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador Teitlebaum, and met our new country director Mike Kaufman. I mean the word "sworn" literally, as the transition to full PCV involves an oath to the United States, specifically "to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic..." or something closely to that effect.

Swearing allegiance to a country is kind of a new experience for me. I mean, we've all said the Pledge of Allegiance a million times at school when we were kids, but it's just something that you say. I remember when I first went back to high schools to teach with the ScienceCorps, we were setting up our supplies and all of a sudden everyone was turning toward the crackling intercom and putting their hands over their hearts. It took me a minute to remember what was going on. Later on I developed a healthy skepticism toward the actions and intentions of the U.S. Government, as you do when you're young and involved in lefty politics, although for the most part I think I kept it above the sanity threshold.

I know a lot of my changing perspective on America reflects a sort of slow shift in my political assumptions over the last year, but being in Ghana has altered how I look at my country as well. I took the oath enthusiastically, because after a couple months here, getting to look at America from the outside, I am proud to say "Me firi America" when asked. Not that we do everything right, or that the last eight years haven't been a disaster. They have. And I'm not proud because of our badass military, although that certainly plays a large role in the stability of our country. I'm proud of our civil infrastructure, the way that we organize ourselves and our resources in a stable, relatively equitable way that allows for both tremendous opportunity and tremendous enjoyment of each day. The standard disclaimer applies: an endorsement of what we do well isn't saying there's no need for change. But I really miss being able to catch a bus, go downtown for a cup of coffee, and just live well in a way that isn't possible here.

Anyway, I'm running out of time again. I'm at site permanently now, and internet time is even scarcer. I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to sign on again, due to the elections in Ghana (and that deserves a real post) we can't travel much for the next few weeks.

I miss you all, and if I haven't replied to your email/facebook post/text message/etc. I haven't forgotten. I have a list.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of all your posts, Sam, this one is the most surprising. I guess there's nothing like a change in environment to provoke a change in perspective.

-Dad

Anonymous said...

i remember the americorps (tho obviously v different from peacecorps) swearing in being similar - "defend u.s. against all enemies " visions of mccarthyism danced in my head, but then if poverty is the enemy, i will swear away.
speaking of government being shitty, including survellience and such, i got a new passport for nicaragua (just there a week) and it has this freaky "do not bend contains sensitive electronics" notice, and a sort of "eye" on front (i kid you not). i'm unsure if i should read it the constitution, call up ACLU, flip it the bird, or what, but the idea of some sad government employee listening to my dull whiny conversations about work and responsibilities, even tho i know they are probably not, kind of makes me less lonely, and even comes close to the thrill of writing a censored blog, which is probably not a difficult feat, if your blog is accessed from china :P

thank you for sharing about your time in ghana.cheers. ~laua
(also writing because i'm hoping to get put on your naughty/nice list for responses:) )