It’s easy to work in a new place. Especially at a start-up where there are a million tasks and not enough hands. You can easily get sucked into working long hours all the time, hanging out with the people you live and work with, and only really seeing other foreigners. It can be easy to cling to what is somewhat familiar when you are tired and hot and all you want are a few things that remind you of home and come easier than talking in a second language to people who, at least on the surface, share very little with you.
But, I want more than that. I didn’t move to Mali to work. I moved to Mali. I am trying to have a life here. It can be really hard sometimes, really hard – but I want a life that is enriched by my surroundings and the people I live with. I want to lead conversations with my latest adventure or discovery not with what is happening at work and what is making me busy.
This means I have to stay open. Even now, when I am finding it hard to live here in Mali and can get frustrated by how difficult things can be sometimes – I have to stay open with palms outstretched ready to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly of what Mali has to offer.