It has been a full week since my return to the DMV (D.C, Metropolitan, Virginia). My first day back spent with family was better than I could have imagined. Rarely, everyone comes together, the occasion of my homecoming was a rewarding incentive for us all. For about a day, I had been flooded with praise from relatives on taking the initiative to explore the culture of Africa. By the end of the week, my friends were more interested in getting me reacquainted with society. The process entails unnecessary spending on bars and brunch, seemingly the only way to spend quality time, along with updates on the newest shoe releases and the unsaid expectation of keeping up with them.
While abroad in Tanzania, my participation in a homestay experience allowed me to fully submerge myself in the lifestyle of the Masai. Their livelihood consisted of proudly making use of every available resource until it withstood. Quite the transition from the lifestyle I regularly led on. So, you can imagine the waning tint of guilt I often felt as I frivolously spent for the sake of social acceptance. Thankfully, a reality check came sooner than later and I was able to realize how quickly I was losing sight of the lessons the Masai people taught me. Less is more, and material things will never truly satisfy you. Before my trip, a big part of my life was keeping up with the latest trends. Today, I see the luxuries of DMV culture as an optional superficial lifestyle.
One thing Tanzania offered whether purchased or not was their mantra “pole, pole”, literally meaning “slow, slow.” I remember being extremely restless with the way the natives leisurely did everything. From your taxi driver showing up 30 mins after you called, to church starting 20 mins post the designated mass time. Each time, I found myself aimlessly obsessing over how unproductive natives were with their time. Ironically, here in D.M.V or rather the U.S. in general, I would argue that we often abuse the time we are given in a day. We leave absolutely no time for leisure and scarcely allocate time for life outside of school or the workplace. Everyone is constantly on to the next thing, rushing to proceed through their self-assuring checklist for the day. The U.S. excels for their productivity but so many of us are missing real connections with ourselves and others.
Fortunately, I received this experience when I did. With graduation around the corner, and just about everyone seems extremely eager to pry and contribute on what track I will take on next. “Pole, pole”, has quickly become a philosophy I stand by. I know that my path is my own and I will get exactly where I want to be when I am supposed to be there. No haste or rush but in due time. This lesson amongst many others has made me extremely grateful to Tanzania.