submitted by Bonsauvage87
Saris, cornrows, and knowledge of obscure languages…move aside. Nothing says commitment quite like a permanent marking that becomes one with your skin the very same way that you have become one with whichever culture you have decided you are a part of for life. Tattoos are for those Expat Aid Workers who deeply desire to internalize the emotional importance of their weeks – perhaps months -long journey by externalizing it.
These tattoos will often feature a tribal symbol or perhaps a meaningful phrase (free love, nonconformity, corporations suck, don’t litter… whatever) in the language of the region. Expat Aid Workers can earn bonus points when the tattoo is obtained in the developing country itself rather than later…upon reflection…in their home country…by some non-artisan professional. Involving dirty needles, lead filled ink and filthy facilities in this experience also give one the opportunity to chronicle this saga upon returning home to enlighten those who are not fortunate enough to have been to this particular corner of the earth.
Picture it now, sitting at a bohemian cocktail party, you can casually one-up the novice or even incongruously interject with, “This one night, in Ondorkhaan, I got trashed on fermented horse milk and rolled with my pal Bataar to the village…” replete with visual aids. Why hello, field cred!
Forget the likelihood of blood-borne pathogens that people in-country struggle to protect themselves and their children from catching; you are taking a necessary risk, for intercultural connection. The slightly conspicuous (come on now, we aren’t talking about damaging pristine faces here) placement of said tattoo also shows that the EAW isn’t hiding his or her free-spirited cultural passions (aka new identity). When you really think about it, a lower back tramp stamp of a West African Fawohodie independence symbol is the ultimate pledge to field work, since the minute you stand up from a DC policy position interview and your spiffy new two button blazer lifts in the back, there’s no way you are getting that job.