Getting outside your comfort zone can be a little…uncomfortable.
However, I have discovered a direct relationship between the size of your comfort zone and how far out of your comfort zone you venture.
Here, I think I’m pretty darn far outside my comfort zone. But that just means that it doesn’t take much at all to make me comfortable.
For instance, when some other PCVs introduced me to their friends from Portugal, there was an instant connection. Filipe and Clara have never been to the states. I have never been to Portugal (I was vaguely aware there was something on the Iberian Peninsula that was not Spain, but I always just kind of imagined it as a dark, fuzzy, non-Spanish blob…). But that didn’t stop our bonding over what really matters.
“Oh my goodness, Portugal has flushing toilets, too? Aren’t they great?!”
“Yeah, I used to know how to drive, too. Used the pedals and everything.”
“Really? Portuguese guys don’t propose to you every day? I think it’s the same back in the states…I remember that…”
It was the same when we came across a group of foreigners right here in Chokwe. I didn’t think twice about introducing myself – in fact, I almost felt obligated to do so. Of course, as soon as I walked up I was greeted with “Hey, I thought I saw another white person in town! Nice to meet you!” One of the guys was from Holland, another was from Great Britain and a couple was from South Africa. But we all spoke English. So we became fast friends.
Really, the only thing I have in common with these people is that, like me, they’re estrangeiros – foreigners. Turns out being strangers is a great common link.
Were I to approach a similar situation back home, I realize, it wouldn’t have quite the same effect. (“Whoa, you speak English?! Me too! Hey, let’s be friends.”)
This has also led me to the conclusion that all we need to have world peace is a few extraterrestrials. (“Hey, you’re human? Me too! Hey, what do you think about that whole having two eyes thing – it’s great, isn’t it?”) That said, I’m going to recommend to Peace Corps that they join forces NASA as a means to world peace. I nominate myself to be the first volunteer to Mars. Cooper out.