Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Want

It's been a while since I've had the freedom to say what I want.  My last Blog was a controlled environment, a political tool.  The last time I had a truly "free" blog was  in college. I definitely said whatever popped into my head back then. Most of it was of questionable taste, to be sure. I mean, I was even more naive then than I am now.

But honestly, it feels really good to know that I can once again say what's on my mind. I suppose I could have done so with my previous blog, but certainly at my own peril. As a Peace Corps Volunteer and guest in a foreign land, I was a sort of cultural ambassador. I had to be mindful of how my words and actions affected the community at large. Writing a blog for such a varied audience has its own set of unique challenges. Not only were my friends and family reading, but so were my local colleagues and other host-country nationals. Understandably, with such a wide readership, my words ran greater risk of crossing cultural bounds, possibly causing a ruckus. Sometimes it was difficult to accurately portray my thoughts and experiences while still being culturally sensitive. But then again, everyone is biased to some degree, and trying to be perfectly objective will always be difficult (if not impossible).

The Peace Corps always passively loomed the threat of termination over our heads with the thought that a volunteer might turn her community against herself, the organization and (by extension) the United States of America all because she managed to say "the wrong thing" on her blog, something that offended one of her host-country national colleagues or community members. Therefore, with my last blog I was careful what picture I painted. Of course I was honest, but at the same time, I was always careful to never come off as too negative, or too whiny. I felt I wasn't just speaking for myself, but the whole institution supporting my work. Therefore, I couldn't always tell it like it was. In fact, I had to censor large portions of my experience in Romania, or I had to water things down considerably. I didn't want to risk putting forth opinions and material that might reflect poorly on my host community, the Peace Corps or the USA.

Now, I don't mean to imply that I'm secretly a controversial individual who up until now has been restraining my more indecent tendencies. Far from it. I'm simply happy to have a new creative space. I'm relieved to be free of the overbearing responsibility I had in writing something that would make everyone happy. That just sets the bar way too high. This is a blank slate. And I can use this slate to express myself however I want. I'm no longer speaking for or on behalf of anyone else. 

Anyway, just wanted to get that off my chest. And, think what you will of the things I post here -- of course, I'm sure you already are, and I certainly encourage you to do so. I just don't have to care anymore!

Well, maybe I'll care a little ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Well, Romania is sick. I wrote something that I didn't loved about my school, and when the teachers found out, they punished me right away, and without even taking in consideration that what I wrote there might actually be true. Now, I'm a high school student that has 6 as his Behavior grade, when the real people to by considered bad behaviors are the teachers... I'm so glad for you to be able to express yourself.
    I wrote a book... coming out soon... and then, they will se how's the thing with free speech.