On the topic of anonymity:

8 Jan

Photo courtesy of Banksy.

I will soon be giving up my ability to be anonymous, unknown — blend in. I’ve finally received word on my official destination and accepted an invitation to serve in Indonesia. (More on Indonesia later.)

I’ve been considering the fact that I am going to stick out for better or worse in Indonesia. The Peace Corps even cautions of this in one of its handbooks which addresses adjustments volunteers must be prepared to make. Peace Corps volunteers reach a sort of “celebrity” status in the country they serve in. This is due to the fact that in the areas they go, they might be a person’s only exposure to a citizen of the U.S., Westerner or even a  foreigner. A great deal of interest will be associated with this as many people will be curious to learn about me and what I’m doing there.

So this, coupled with my recent viewing of “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which features, was produced by and directed by the elusive street artist Banksy, has got me thinking a lot of about the luxury of the ability to remain anonymous.

Think about it. It’s apparent some people desire to be seen and known or pop culture wouldn’t be riddled with faux celebrities soaking up their 15 minutes and making careers out of just being seen on TV. These people get paid to attend club events and parties, tweet and more. They want to be heard and seen.  So there’s those people . . .

But, if you ask most celebrities (especially ones with talent and especially über celebrities), I’m sure there are times when they’d give anything to be completely unseen and blend in just like everyone else.  (If you want to refute this, just think of how much they invest in creating a world of privacy around themselves.)

Bansky on the other hand . . . his name is known. His work appreciated. Yet, he retains the ability to get a cup of coffee or a box of cereal and not draw attention. If I may opine, this is possibly the best of both worlds.

Obviously, I haven’t experienced any sort of celebrity.  I’ve lived my life as most, another face in the crowd. I just thought I’d give some thought on anonymity being that it is held to some as dear and to others a plague to be avoided at all costs. (I’m talking about you, Lady Gaga.)

I will have to make many changes when I go to Indonesia, and one thing is for sure: I will be very out of place, and I will be giving up the freedom of going unnoticed while going about my daily business. Whether the attention is sought or not, good or bad,  I think I will enjoy blending in for the time being.

Photo courtesy of Banksy.


14 Responses to “On the topic of anonymity:”

  1. Angela Williams January 13, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    I came across your blog. I am currently waiting to get my invitation via UPS. I am hoping it will come any day now. I have been invited to serve in Asia leaving April. I will be teaching English. I am hoping it is Indonesia but I wait anxiously to see for sure.

    • Nicole January 14, 2011 at 9:17 am #

      Oh, that is exciting! So far Indonesia is the only country in Asia that I know of that leaves in April, so it is very likely. You’ll have to keep me updated!

  2. Jonathan Fujiwara January 14, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Similar myself. Your blog has become a lightning rod for those being deployed to that region, time. The wonders of the internet. Congrats to all!

    From an old army storehouse-turned-theater atop a slowly crumbling pier in (to my great surprise) *sunny* San Francisco,

    Jonathan Fujiwara

    • Nicole January 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      Good to hear, have you heard anything else about your placement?

      • Jonathan Fujiwara January 23, 2011 at 1:01 am #

        Yes, indeed. Received my invitation in the mail late Thursday and submitted my acceptance soon thereafter — looks like I will be joining you and Angela at staging and beyond. Indonesia it is! Been near five years since I last found myself in that longitudinal neighborhood, and I am positively elated at both my imminent return and the job ahead.

        To share resources, or simply to get a network started, give me a write. (Does it show my email address on your end? I know your comment interface requires it though I know not to what end). My cup …er, desk… overfloweth with titles on second language acquisition theory, though I find myself somewhat wanting for a few on classroom application.

      • Jonathan Fujiwara January 23, 2011 at 1:30 am #

        Make that latitudinal neighborhood (haven’t been further East than Sydney). I’m going to blame the lateness of the hour on that one.

      • Angela January 23, 2011 at 11:05 am #

        Our little group is growing! I can’t wait to meet everyone. I just got my wisdom teeth taken out the other day, and in my groggy haze I will mail everything back in, so I should be good to go! Also have to mail in the visa paperwork STAT!

  3. maggie January 14, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    i’m a current volunteer in indonesia. i stumbled onto your blog while i was checking out the updates from the rest of the indo crew who are currently teaching in east java. it’s really exciting to know that a new group of volunteers is starting to accept their invitations and i wish you the best of luck over the next few months-packing, saying goodbyes, getting your fill of your favorite foods. but i think the waiting is the toughest part ;) let me know if you have any questions or concerns and i look forward to meeting you in a few months!

    • Nicole January 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      Maggie, I look forward to meeting you as well! Thanks for the comments, the well wishes and the offer to help answer some of my questions. At this point I’m not even sure where to begin in my wonderings of what life and Peace Corps service may be like in Indonesia! I am very excited though and I’m sure I’ll be contacting you soon!

  4. Angela January 16, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    Indonesia it is! I just got my Invitation Kit in the mail!

  5. Noel January 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Hi Nicole! Congrats on the invite, and welcome to PC Indo! I just found your blog on PC Journals. I’m a current volunteer like Maggie, and will extend the same invitation that if you have any questions about anything, feel free to contact me!

    • Nicole January 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      Thanks so much Noel! I’m sure it will come in handy!

  6. Angela Williams January 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Hey! I just stated a facebook group for all of us fixing to depart of Indonesia in April. You can join here if you are interested! http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=18831#!/home.php?sk=group_183501705015019

    Talk to you all soon!


  1. A different kind of celebrity « The Personette - September 18, 2012

    […] Sprawled out on my unbelievably comfy bed back home and leafing through pre-departure pamphlets I came across a section that described the rock star-like treatment Peace Corps Volunteers often receive in the communities they serve. At that point in time, this prompted a bit of contemplation and a blog post on the topic of anonymity. […]

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