Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How I've Changed

People often ask me how I’ve changed since I’ve returned from my Peace Corps service.  I usually tell them about my new level of patience, and how I’ve come to understand what is important to me in life, or if they’re a close friend I may tell them how I’ve become comfortable with who I am, including my hairline.  However, more recently, especially with today being 9/11, I’ve realized that since I've been abroad I've developed a new understanding of those who practice Islam.

I know that today is a hard day for all Americans.  I can remember exactly when and where I was on 9/11 and the goosebumps that ran through my body as I saw the plane crash into the first tower.  I’ve seen many beautiful posts from friends and family members remembering those we lost, but I’ve also seen some that simply eat at my heart.  The one that encouraged me to write follows:

“i am not usually outspoken, especially when it comes to political issues. In two days 1 million Muslims are marching on Washington. The SAME day they destroyed the twin towers.”

This quote was attached to a picture of an astonishing rally of bikers.  Seeing people come together is the most beautiful thing in this world.  The Washington News reported that the bikers organized the ride to Washington D.C. in part to protest a Muslim rally.  I admire the bikers coming together for those we lost, but find the comments regarding the protest of the Muslim rally hard to wrap my mind around. This is mainly because "they" did not attack the twin towers.  

Let me show you who "they" are...

Many of you have seen this woman before.
She was my host mother in my first village.  She cared for
me as if I were her own child.  When I told her I was leaving
she wept as if I was dying.  She's Muslim.

This is Musa.  He was my host brother.  He was extremely
diligent in his prayers.  He is one of the hardest working
children I know.  He is passionate about learning.  He loved
to sing Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" and watch
sunsets with me.  He is Muslim.

This is Hawa.  She was my host mother in my
second village. She always did her work
with a smile on her face, and did
all she could to please her family and others.
She would have given me the world,
if I had asked for it.  She's Muslim.

This is my entire host family in Taibatou.  They have gathered together to pray in this picture.  They fed me, protected me, taught me, but most importantly ACCEPTED me.  They are all Muslim.

Returning, I wish that everyone could take a step outside of their box to get to know what it's like to be in someone else's box.  When it comes to religions and faith, they are truly beautiful when practiced correctly.  I wish this world could start concentrating on our similar beliefs, like our beliefs in love, kindness, or good deeds, rather than those that divide us.  This kind of answer is pretty hefty for the normal conversation, so I'll stick to my typical answers for now.  However, those of you who have followed me throughout this will know the truth.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.  May God bless you all.


  1. After only a short while serving where you served, I've come to a conclusion that the people in this world (past, present and those to come) live in various degrees of two states; ignorance or understanding (and all their by-products; hate, intolerance or love and compassion.)

    We'll never be rid of one as the other will never be absolute. It's people like you and the stories they tell that can only stem the tide nescience. Your message is crystal clear and exactly to the point. I'll do my best to carry it on. Thank you Lacy.

  2. This exact "changed" is at the top of my list as well, Lace. I remember one of my first nights in training village very vividly. My host brother, Ibrema (the Muslim name for Abraham) explained to me with much emotion that they are not like "those" Muslims: that Muslims are the most peaceful people on earth. That "those" Muslims are not Muslims at all. It made a big impact on my formerly narrow way of thinking. Likewise, I've never been taken better care of than by Muslims. When I was on my death bed (literally), it was my literal family in America who kept me going emotionally and my pseudo Muslim family in The Gambia and Senegal that kept me alive physically. True Muslims are truly a remarkable people. Well said, my sweet friend.

  3. I loved reading each word...Lacy..I wish people like you were more..I am a proud Indian from Chandigarh and we have plenty of "Muslim" friends and they are also God's children..Hope the tide turns and we spread love instead of hatred !!

  4. Lacy, to think that when we got together yesterday we didn't touch on this. I feel like our conversation was so trite. I read this entry just today, and I can't tell you how much I agree with you. Paul and I traveled to Jordan, Egypt, and Israel after the Arab Spring. We were there during this hopeful window just before Morsi was elected president. We are so sad for the people over there and all that has happened and is continuing to happen - especially now in Syria. While there we saw beautiful mosques and had a Coptic Christian guide tell us about the basic pillars of Islam. They care very much about social justice, goodness, and fairness. It's so unfortunate that they seem to have all been painted with the same brush. Here in San Diego, Paul and I attended 'An Evening of Dialogue' at St. Paul's Episcopal Church where the Episcopalian Deacon, a Jewish Rabbi, and an Iman from the Islamic Center of San Diego came together on one night to talk about what all three of these religions have in common and to allow members to ask questions to clear up confusions. The Iman's daughter sang the opening prayer. It is no surprise that they all agree on what is important to all of us. We had coffee and cookies afterwards where we were encouraged to mingle and get to know each other. I did this for one evening. You spent two years doing that. I so appreciate that you publicly posted your thoughts.

  5. Hi Lacy,

    Sorry to bother you.  My name is Ray Blakney and I am an RPCV from Mexico (2006-2008). Great work on the blog. I am working on a 3rd goal project with the PC regional offices and the main office in DC to try to create an online archive to keep the language training material made all over the world from getting lost.  I have created a sub-section on the website my wife and I run Live Lingua with all the information I have been able to get to date (from over the web and sent to me directly by PC staff and PCV's).  I currently have close to 100 languages with ebooks, audios, and even some videos. 
    The next step for this project is that I am trying to get the word out about this resource so that it can not only be used by PCV's or those accepted into the Peace Corps, but also so that when people run across material that is not on the site they can send it to me and I can get it up for everybody to use.  I was hoping that you could help getting the word out by putting a link on this on your site here, so that people know it is there.  There should be something there for almost everybody.  It is all 100% free to use and share.  Here is the specific page to what we call the Live Lingua Project:

    Thanks for any help you can provide in making this 3rd goal project a success.   And if anybody in your group has some old material they can scan or already have in digital form, and want to add to the archive, please don't hesitate to pass them my email.  Thanks and have a great day.