I am writing my memoir about living in a Nigerian village for nine months. They pulled my support system out from under me while I was there. I also met a young British graduate student living in the home of a traditional carver, who also had her support system stopped while she was in the field. How did she cope? She never told me. But I would still like to know.
I want to read memoirs of women who have lived hazardously. Women who have gone out by themselves to live with a people completely foreign to them. People who had a language different from yours. A culture different from yours. A place where you were completely alone with no or limited support systems.
I am interested in Jane Goodall’s experience. The Margaret Mead experience.
How did you deal with being a standalone? Your skin color was probably different, so you stood out in a crowd. How did you deal with that? How did it make you feel?
You did not have all the western conveniences such as indoor flush toilets, high-speed internet, telephones, and limited cash. How did you cope?
Did you have a car to get around? Or did you walk everywhere?
What was your housing like? Did you live in a hotel/motel? Or did you live in a house like the ones other people were living in? Were you alone?
What did you wear? Was it a problem for you doing the washing, cooking, and cleaning up? Did you have any privacy?
Did you need to have an interpreter? Or did you learn the language before you left home?
Why do I want to hear your voice?
Because women’s experiences differ from men’s.
It is still a man’s world. Where men of different nationalities, colors and customs can interact with each other man-to-man, knowing that they are superior to women; women start out in an inferior position. A woman always starts in a one-down position. Even in the most gender-neutral countries, there is the unspoken bias that men are superior.
Were you ever scared?
Many women went to live in foreign countries as missionaries-but never alone. Only male missionaries ventured out alone. Protestant missionaries usually sent out husband-wife teams. These experiences had built-in support systems. I am interested in women who have lived totally alone in a culture different from their own. I want to hear their stories.
Women who have joined the Peace Corps went out to live with a people they did not know. Have we heard their stories? They had a built-in support system that sometimes worked and sometimes did not. How did they cope?
I want to hear the stories of women anthropologists who have been alone in the field. I want more than one story like Eleanor Bowen’s “Return to Laughter.” She used a pseudonym to write her fictionalized memoir, which she called a novel. I want more of these stories. They don’t need to be fictionalized and you don’t have to write them under a pseudonym. Tell the truth. All of it. I want to hear about all the warts and what you did to deal with them, I want to hear all about the candy experiences too.
Are you out there? Do you have a story to tell? Please write it and publish it, as an independent author if necessary. I want to read your story.