Written by CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer Ms. Maureen Shayne Khasandi
Managing expectations is a full-time job, especially when it comes to managing a community. As a Volunteer with CorpsAfrica, I have learned this lesson the hard way. I have to remind my community members over and over again that I cannot solve all their problems with a wave of my magic wand. I am here to help everyone in Ngelelya’s location, not just one person or group.
It can be challenging to manage expectations, but it’s even harder when you have to manage your expectations. When I first arrived, I was caught off-guard by the fact that I would be staying in a place with no electricity or phone reception. I had to adjust to using data bundles and find ways to communicate with my loved ones back home.
But the biggest surprise came when I found scorpions in my room. I had never encountered them before, and I certainly didn’t expect to find them in my bedroom. My host parents’ reaction was even more surprising. Instead of panicking, they laughed it off and told me how normal scorpions were in their culture. My host mom even shared a story about how she had been stung by one and it took her four days to recover.
I won’t lie; the whole scorpion situation was terrifying. I found one on the wall just inches from my bed, and another one was crawling near my headboard. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if they had crawled into my bed while I was asleep. This experience almost made me want to change the title of this piece to “Get me the hell out of here before the scorpions kill me.”
Despite the challenges, I have learned to manage my expectations and those of my community. I have come to realize that we all have skills that we can teach and learn from each other. And while I may not be able to solve all their problems, I can offer support and guidance.
Managing expectations is a never-ending process, but it’s one that I am willing to take on. As for the scorpions, I may never embrace them as a part of their culture, but I will certainly learn to coexist with them. After all, they may be normal for my host family, but they are not going to be normal for me.