book review 3

book review 3 - A Whole New World for Monique Maria Schmidt...

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A Whole New World for Monique Maria Schmidt Monique’s Transformation in Last Moon Dancing 1
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“How to explain the way the world worked? People in America had different lives. People in Africa had different lives. The differences would remain…” (46) writes Peace Corps volunteer Monique Maria Schmidt in her memoir Last Moon Dancing as she faced the difficulties of surviving in a foreign country. She was astounded by the different culture practiced in Africa and struggled to adapt to the African way of life. Throughout her journey she battled between two motives: to feel accepted in the African community, yet also to change it for the betterment of the society. Her memoir is depicted in such great detail that it portrays a vivid picture of what life was like in Africa. As Louise W. Knight states, “To explore cultural truth, we might see the memoir as a snapshot of the memoirist’s worldview at the time it was written, or as a piece of literature influenced by culture.” Monique portrays her life in Africa just as Knight describes how one should be; a snapshot from the memoirist’s perspective. Schmidt beautifully conveys her memoir as a picture of her experiences in Africa. Her personas as a teacher to the African children and as a daughter to Big Mama were illustrated through the experiences she encounters with the African community. As her journey progresses she becomes more aware of the culture and adapts to the new environment. Throughout her journey she goes through three different stages: culture shock, process of change, and transformation. Initially, she clings on to her American lifestyle due to false expectations; however, as time progresses she feels lonely and builds lasting relationships with the Africans which transforms her into a more mature woman. As Monique steps on the land of Africa, she experiences a wide range of culture shock and resists on changing based on false expectations. She is so much in her comfort zone that she doesn’t realize the harsh reality of living in another country. She figured she wouldn’t have to adapt as much because she was educated and felt that she could make her way around living in Africa. This culture shock affects her deeply and contributes to her transformation. She didn’t expect living in Africa to be so hard considering that the recruiter had merely told her that “the living conditions would be rough” (15). Monique was misled on how life really was in Africa 2
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and through the pamphlets she read about the “courageous, motivated, altruistic smiles of American volunteers laughing with villagers” (15) and expected Africa to be easy to adapt to. The diction ‘altruistic smiles’ and the volunteers ‘laughing’ in the pamphlets Monique read made Africa seem easier to adapt to than what she experienced. This added to the culture shock because Monique hadn’t expected Africa to be so difficult. Her false expectations made her resist adapting to the new environment in Africa.
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book review 3 - A Whole New World for Monique Maria Schmidt...

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