An Unexpected Day Off and a Book Recommendation

February 22, 2013

  Florina wasn't able to come to work the other day so I got an unexpected day off.  I could definitely use the time off right now and I was really looking forward to spending a day alone with Fire.  I haven't been able to spend hardly any time alone with him and I set my sights pretty low when I made my to-do list so that I would be able to enjoy the day: run, laundry, dishes, make bed, sweep, play with Fire. 
  I spent almost three months home with Sky when she was around this age and the difference between the two of them was night and day.  Granted, they were at very different places in their lives (we, and Kwaj, were still new to Sky) but it was wonderful to not have to be holding Fire all the time and for him to not need to see me all the time.  I was in the kitchen for a big part of the morning and he would wander in and out as he wanted.  He "helped" me unload and reload the dishwasher and we played peek-a-boo with the laundry.  After his morning nap, we went to visit a friend who stays home with her daughter for a playdate.  Rachel and I talked while Fire and H played until Rachel had to pick her son up from school and then Fire and I ran errands until lunch time.  We played, napped, and then played some more.  It was quiet and calm, and even though I missed the busyness and socializing of work, I really enjoyed the day.
  One of the things I did during the day was re-read a really great book:  Surviving Paradise by Peter Rudiak-Gould.  He was a World Teach volunteer on Ujae in 03-04 and wrote a book about his experiences there.  I read this book for the first time in 2008 when I was just visiting Kwaj and although I enjoyed it, it didn't really resonate with me.  Now that I live here, teach here, and participate on the fringes of a Marshallese family, I have a different perspective on things and I appreciate his book much more.  While I don't agree with everything he has to say, I think he captures the dicotomy faced by outsiders here, trapped between embracing the culture and encouraging change.  If you're looking for a new perspective on volunteering in general and on the Marshall Islands in particular, I highly recommend this book.

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