It’s been a while, but the concept of “home” hasn’t left me even after eleven and a half months in Cameroon. Yet “home” is starting to mean many different things.
If how is where the heart is, then it’s not quite enough. My heart is on what I do just as much as where I do it. But a little piece of that heart isn’t in my here and now.
Sometimes “home” is my place in that other world I used to know.
Sometimes “home” is the knowledge that I am not forgotten even when I am not seen. It’s the knowledge that someone cares for me, cares where I am and cares to know I am OK.
Sometimes “home” is the space where I can be myself without trying to fit into various foreign cultural rules.
That’s why having outside support while on this volunteering placement is so important. It simply makes a world of difference to know that when you are having a “bad culture day”, a friend sends you a note saying they passed by your favourite tea/coffee spot and thought of you.
Those thoughts remind of home. In all it’s dynamic definitions.
“Home” keeps me grounded. It’s not a fall-back position if things don’t work out. No, it’s more of a fall-to when the time comes to return with my luggage overflowing with stories of my experiences. It’s also a fall-in when I need to feel that connection to all that I know and all that I love.
Perhaps the emotional link to “home” and everything it means – family, friends, food, frolic and fun –just boost resilience and provides encouragement by the simple virtue that it is there.
So keep up the “random thought of you” messages. Remind me of “home” anytime you like!