#95 Talking about all the places they’ve been
Expats Aid Workers love love LOVE talking about all the places they’ve been. All the better if talking about the places they’ve been involves harrowing tales or funny anecdotes shared over a drink or dinner, typically in a suitably Western environment.
We all know the routine: Your friend takes a dramatically lazy sip of his gin & tonic, gets a faraway look in his eyes, and then sighs, “well, when I was in Nepal living with a family in their one bedroom mud hut…”
“I remember when I was in Sudan, back before CNN had heard of Darfur…”
“Oh, let me tell you about the time when I was in Afghanistan…”
The stories are usually cute and funny, and best if delivered in a deadpan/bored tone. They generally provoke gasps or nods from around the table. Veteran EAWs who’ve heard it all before (and probably done most of it themselves) may roll their eyes. (It’s very posh, by the way, to have got to the point where you can roll your eyes because you’ve been around and travelled so much that you don’t need to hear yet another story from an idealistic hipster. Clearly such young newbies have not collected enough passports to know the way the world really works.)
Related to the desire to talk about the places that they’ve been is the unending truism that EAWs all fall in love with the first place they’ve been. (Editor’s note: think, Feels Like the First Time by Foreigner).
For example, if someone had their first volunteering or work experience in the Phillipines, then no matter the hardships they went through, they will always have a soft spot in their heart for it and any place they go after that, ever, will always be compared to the Philippines (and will probably not measure up). Or Ghana. Or Nicaragua. Or Uzbekistan…
They say “Africa gets in your blood” or “Asia gets in your blood.” Maybe it should be “development gets in your blood and nothing gets it stronger than your first culture shock.”