I apologize for the lack of posts the last few weeks. Surprisingly, I had less internet access in London than I do in Botswana. Or I would have had to go to a Starbucks or internet cafe to access it. And I wanted to spend time with family instead of going online. Also, this past week I hosted a Peace Corps trainee from the Bots 11 class. We were so busy! It was such a pleasure to be able to share my work with someone else. My trainee was so receptive and supportive. It was a great re-affirmation of my work (something we all need sometimes). I will write another post about some things that I realized this past week. But first, I want to talk about London.
Oh, London. I have only been one time prior, for a weekend while I was studying in Berlin a couple years ago. This trip was lovely. I was able to get a real sense of the city. On the one hand, I really liked it. On the other hand, a trip back to the west was really overwhelming and made me contemplate the real meanings of civilization. I will talk about the beautiful parts of the trip first.
My mom and dad met me in London, where we went to celebrate my uncles' civil ceremony and 20 years together. I celebrated my 23rd birthday there. I got to see some old friends. Mom, dad and I had a jam-packed week. We saw two shows--Much Ado About Nothing at the Shakespeare's Globe and Legally Blonde: The Musical at the Savoy Theatre. Both great. We took pictures in front of Parliament and Big Ben, toured the Tower of London (where many Queens of England and other important people got their heads cut off). We went shopping on Carnaby street and walked through Camden. And probably the most important: we saw Stonehenge.
As usual, pictures are not uploading well. Internet is being slow today. So I will upload my pictures as my next blog post.
Once I got used to it, I did enjoy being in London. However, it was a real cultural shock, which I was not expecting. In my village, everyone greets each other. People know their neighbors. Life really revolves around human interaction. Even stepping into the Johanessburg airport on the way to London was very difficult. I remembered the western life that I had been a part of--the iphone generation, the men with their rolling suitcases walking a mile a minute to get to wherever they need to go. I felt this way especially in the tube in London as well. People would get very annoyed if someone was in their way, as if the world revolved around them. It's not as bad as New York City, but it still made me feel uncomfortable.
I do not mean to criticize anyone living in that world. I was THAT GIRL. I pushed my way onto trains. I walked around with my headphones in. I didn't really give a damn about the people around me, didn't want to talk to them, didn't care about their lives. Not in a mean way. That is just how we are. But I had an immediate visceral reaction to being in that world again. I don't know what that means for my future, or for where I may or may not want to live. I do know one thing: I couldn't wait to get back to my village, where many people know my name and ask me how my day is going.
As I alluded to, the experience made me really think about what we define as civilization. Obviously a large part of it is literacy, existence of the arts, and reaching a certain level of development. But people also talk about civilization in relation to technology. I have heard many people, on numerous occasions, connect going back west to going back to "civilization." But as I sat in Starbucks looking at everyone on their computers, iPads, and iPhones, I really began to question this notion. Is this really civilization--where people do not interact with each other? Or is there a certain level of humanity that is missing in this technology-dependent culture?
Something to think about :)