Last night, I attended my first meeting of an English language book club for expat women living in here. Each month, a member picks a book and hosts the club. Everyone gets together, talks about the book for an hour, and then, apparently, talks about kids for the second hour.
I had a fantastic time. I’d heard about the book club previously, but for a million reasons, never got around to joining. A few weeks ago, I asked Lauren for details, and if I could come.
We (returned) Peace Corps volunteers tend to be nastily smug about our service, compared to that of expats. We live “real” lives, eat local food, wear local clothes, and generally are well integrated into Beninese society. Expats don’t have this luxury. They’re brought over to do a job, and aren’t interested in lowering their quality of life (or that of their kids!) in the interests vague ideas like “integration” and “making friends”.
During my service, I eschewed the expat scene, both American and otherwise. 1) I was poor, and it really sucked not being able to go out for drinks or eat at nice restaurants when invited. 2) I was snob.
What an enormous mistake! Forget about the (obvious) networking opportunities, I just missed meeting a lot of fascinating people that I could have been privileged to call my friends. In the last few weeks, I’ve been lucky to hang out with both francophone and Anglophone expats, and . . . I should have done it sooner. Much sooner. Years sooner.
Anyway, it was a great experience, and I’m already excited about the next meeting, in a month.