You may know, dear readers, there are four MCCers here in Rumbek. Two couples. Both have blogs. I, joel, have been least regular (blogwise) lately. Having caved to (largely internalized) pressure, i hereby present: A blog post!
My laxity in blog-related activities is due to feeling i had nothing to write. Honestly, i’m not sure if what follows warrants posting, but i’ll leave that for you to decide. Basically, i’m going to tell you why i felt i had nothing of import to write & see what happens.
First of all, i’ve felt disconnected from the predominantly Dinka culture. It’s very possible, indeed probable, that my feelings stem from one of those downs among the ups that are normally experienced when living in a cultural setting not one’s own. These are to be expected, normal. I felt them in Korea, too. But there we had Korean co-workers &, as frustrated as i got with the culture (&, boy, did i get frustrated!), i had to navigate those relationships, which forced me to get over rough patches. Here, our compound is largely populated by non-Sudanese. The Sudanese who do work here—groundskeepers, guards, cooks, construction workers—don’t generally interact with me much beyond small talk. Meals are provided; we wouldn’t need to leave. Which makes avoiding interactions with the culture easy, especially when it’s ticking me off. The result: no amusing, challenging, learning interactions in recent weeks, the type which often populate the blogs of those living abroad.
The second point struck me this afternoon, while reading another blog. This woman was writing about the importance of learning from people who practice “positive deviance”. This means that in spite of cultural dictums, these people do things differently &, maybe more importantly, successfully. I realized with sadness, that i had lost contact with the one person i knew who practises positive deviance within the Dinka culture. Not for good, i hope. He has worked extensively in his own community, teaching people to settle disputes not through violence, but through mediation & negotiation. He also struggles with alcoholism. He may have descended again into the darkness of addiction, & in the process—whether intentionally or not—the deeper connection we once had has been severed. I hope that i can learn what it means for me to be a friend to him in light of this, but as of right now i’m at a loss, as well as feeling a sense of loss.
I think that about covers it.
I feel a little better.
Thanks for listening (i mean reading).
The day after i wrote this i had a nice, albeit surface, conversation with my estranged, positive-deviance-practising friend. We didn’t get into deeper life issues, but it was nice to connect more than we have for the past few weeks. I tend to over-think situations like this, but i’ve realized once again the best course of action is simply to speak as friends & let the conversation unfold.