As part of our three month pre-service training, fellow Peace Corps education volunteers and I will live with host families in Ethiopia. Like my experience staying with two host families during my semester studying abroad in India, I expect to gain much cultural perspective and build significant relationships with my future host family.
We were encouraged by Peace Corps staff to bring a small gift to our host families as an expression of our gratitude and a symbol of that place we call “home”. Yesterday I found the perfect gift for my host family: a small, sing-song wind chime. In addition to a few post cards featuring the Palmetto State in all her glory and a collection of Americana-inspired bandanas, this wind chime, I hope, will convey the spirit of where I come from in ways words just can’t.
Music made from the wind. Sinking into a rocking chair. Soft, hardly decipherable whispers. Lemonade from frozen concentrate. Afternoon naps. Honeysuckle. Stale bread and hungry ducks. Overgrown plants hanging from the ceiling of a screened-in porch.
I have been thinking recently about how setting subconsciously affects us. Lakes, overgrown grass, and prickly pine cones all play into how I relate to others within my environment here. I wonder how that will change when I live in Ethiopia? Or how it will mingle into the future place I inhabit and person I grow into?
How do you think objects relate to place and memory? How does our environment affect us?