All of the sudden, those social expectations no longer applied to me.When I visited him in his town, no one thought less of me for accompanying him to a bar — because I was accompanying a man.
The daily stress, anger, and frustration of being harassed went away too.
No one flirted with or hit on me since I was, in effect, already “claimed” by a highly respected member of their community. It was almost as though I was getting secret insight into what it’s like to volunteer in Madagascar as a man.
I hated it but understood that respecting the cultural expectations my town had for women was extremely important for the success of my work, the respect I received as a teacher at the local middle school, and for building a healthy relationship with my community.
So, like all other women, I stayed at home after dark.
I mean, we all hear the rumors, the gossip, the statistics - now, let me blab on about it for the next 2 to 5 minutes.
When I first started telling my friends and family I was considering Peace Corps, I couldn't believe how many people insinuated that in 2 years I would return married.Then, you throw in the living in different communities, the focus on your work, and the attention you must give to cultural norms...Well, you end up with not a great recipe for a healthy and successful relationship.As a result, I spent most of my nights watching movies after dark and going to sleep around 9.My main outlet for socialization was a weekly English club I hosted, and wandering around the market chatting with various vendors and co-workers I’d come to recognize — all but one of whom was a woman.After pleading guilty to aggravated robbery, Dieter Cantu spent his 17th birthday in juvenile detention.