As I stated previously, I would spend the first few weeks of the New Year reflecting on my Belizean experience. I still intend to do that however I seem to have come across a slight problem.
When I launched this website, way back in June 2004, the thought of blogging had not crossed my mind. I put the site together, picture, personal details and all. Eventually the journal was added and I was very aware of the fact that I was not blogging anonymously. While in Belize the majority of my entries were 100% narrative so I didn’t struggle too much with issues such as offending and/or embarassing family and friends. The main issue I struggled with was protecting the privacy of those I interacted with, hence my reluctance to refer to other volunteers by name.
The problem with this next stage of my Belize experiences, is that I am moving away from the narrative and focusing mainly on my opinions and feelings. I want to write honestly and openly about what I have learnt, what I liked/disliked, what my views were on certain things and so on. It sounded so easy at first; until I tried.
The good things will always be easier to write about; it’s the not-so good things that are going to be a problem. How do I write honestly about what I can only term as the instutionalised sexism I came across in Belize and the sexist attitude of most of the men that I interacted with, without sounding like an uppity Western neo-colonialist who is insensitive to people’s culture or worse offending the Belizean men who treated me with respect? What of the challenges I faced of being the sole black and African volunteer amongst a group of white volunteers in a predominantly black country without offending those volunteers I consider my friends?
I haven’t even began to deal with all the self analysis that I shall have to go through; I had planned to share all and I do intend to but Lord! it takes a lot to lay yourself bare and for someone as proud as I am, it will take even more to admit how little I knew or how wrong I was.
The whole volunteer experience has been a journey for me and it would be pointless to simply talk about the end of the journey without being honest about how I got there.
Well I guess, this in some way acts as my disclaimer, I have already hinted at some of the things I plan to blog about and this is my way of saying, I do intend to be blunt and brutally honest about myself, my experiences and the impact they had on me. I apologise in advance if anything I say offends or upsets; this is not my intention.
I shall end by saying that every single person I interacted with and every single encounter I had no matter how good or how bad has in some way shaped my Belize experience and in turn shaped me. I feel I have come back from a Belize a stronger, and more focused African woman. I have grown emotionally, professionally, intellectually and so I am grateful to God for every moment and every person.