Do you remember Jimmy Carter’s mother Lillian? She did many remarkable things, but what I remember most is that she applied to the Peace Corps at age 68 and then nursed leprosy patients during a two-year term in India.
Let me introduce you to another Peace Corps volunteer, also a Gestalt psychotherapist and sociologist, Janet Givens.
Like “Miss Lillian” Carter, Janet enlisted later in life. Her memoir about her Peace Corps experiences 2004-2006 will be coming out this year. Cultural diversity, boundaries, and borderlands fascinate her. When she read Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, she read it through that lens. Her own book, At Home On the Kazakh Steppe, will launch later this year.
Janet asked me to write a guest post for her blog. I enjoyed a new way to look at my life because it has intersected with hers. Isn’t that one of the greatest joys of any artistic endeavor?
Here’s the beginning of the story. To read it completely, just click and you will find yourself in the delightful world of Janet’s blog.
A Little Fish in a Mennonite Sea
Until I was six years old, I was a fish.
Actually, I was like the fish David Foster Wallace described in his commencement address at Kenyon College in 2005:
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
I would not have said “hell.” I was, after all, a Mennonite kid growing up on a dairy farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. We worked on the farm from sun up to sun down. Not only did we not swear, we didn’t drink, smoke (well, my father’s cigars were tolerated, but only when he smoked them outdoors), dance, go to movies, or own a television set. The time: America in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Read more.
Janet would love comments on her blog. Go show her some love and then come back if you have more to say about Miss Lillian or your own experiences of crossing cultures. Do you have your own Peace Corps or mini-Peace Corps experience?