It's a world of bills, taxes, employment, unemployment, houses, or living with the parents. I believe this is known as "the real world." You know, that phrase that was drilled into our heads over and over again in high school.
A few days ago, with the miracle of a borrowed computer and skype, I talked to some of my best friends back home in the good ol' US of A. An offhand comment was made, something to the tune of, "Sam, when you get back to the real world..." Well, throughout college, I always joked about never joining the real world, and let's face it, college was definitely not the real world we'd been told about. Even when we pisikoas first arrived in Samoa and were walking down the sidewalks of Apia dripping in sweat, I was still joking about not being in the real world. However, after living here for more than five months, it's become painfully clear that this is a world more real than what most of my friends back home are experiencing.
No, I am not living in what high school indoctrinated us to believe would be "the real world." No, I'm not looking for jobs back home, or applying to grad schools, or paying bills and taxes (that's a lie, I'm still paying taxes and the student loans are still rolling in and grad school will happen when I get back home). But I am living in a world that everyday tests who I am, that everyday challenges everything I thought I ever was. Last time I checked, job applications don't make you question who you are or what you are made of.
I'm living in a world where people tell me men are better than women, where my words are twisted, a world world where I see children hit every day, where I'm told to simply "lead by example" when it comes to corporal punishment. This is a world of "Hey baby"ies and being randomly touched in a crowd, a world that makes me glad I took self-defense my last semester of college (let's hope I never need to use it). This so-called not-real-world is a place where I had to evacuate my house on the ocean after the earthquake in Japan because of a tsunami scare. (Samoa was hit by a tsunami in September 2009; you ever hear of that one?) A world where I am constantly being judged on how many leaves are in my yard, by every preconceived (usually wrong) notion people have of palagis (my oh-so-favorite word), and my level of Samoan. Again, let's be real. When I go back to the States, I'm probably going to be able to speak Samoan better than, what, 90% of the country? (And how ethnocentric is it that Samoans learn to speak English because ours is the dominant world language. In other words, we don't have to bother to learn Samoan.) A world where, when I can politely do so, I throw in that I can also speak Spanish just so I don't look like some ignorant, young girl, which, I'm sure a lot of people think I am. This is a place where I am solely seen as a pretty little girl teaching school; I am no longer the smart, talented, flute-playi9ng, writing, performing, phi beta kappa person who I was back home. Nobody sees that here (I played flute with the National Samoan Orchestra on TV and more people recognized me when they saw me on TV in the audience at Samoa's Best Dance Crew.) This is a life of just hoping some of my students will be literate by the end of the year, of wanting them to want to learn, but I fear that is too much to ask. This unreal world is a place where I worry about three little girls with an alcoholic father. It's somewhere where I've turned down marriage proposals. I've been bitten by a poisonous Giant Centipede and yeah, that might be something out of "Alice and Wonderland" or the movie "James and the Giant Peach" (I kid you not, that effing centipede looked just like the one from th movie), but how often do you get bit back home by a bug that makes you simultaneously laugh and cry as the injury swells?
No,I'm not living in y our "real world." I'm living in a world that's realer than real. (Ahem, Sean Cobb, I believe we talked about a very similar phrase last year in Senior Sem. I think I've finally figured out what it means..)
So for anyone who thinks I'm not living in the real world, I would encourage you to think of the last time you saw a piece of wood broken on the back of a child.