I've been warned about this.
I knew it was coming, but I guess I just never thought it would be as bad as they say it is.
I guess I figured I would pull out of this feeling differently - - because, I just wanted it to be that way.
I saw a glimpse of all of this when I was home in the states.People wanted to come visit me, they wanted to say hello. They wanted to see their shiny, fancy friend back from the Peace Corps.
"How's Africa?""I don't know how you do it. Isn't it so sad?"
"Do people die all the time?"
"Are you living in a hut? … what? They have electricity?"
Let's start off with the fact that Africa is a CONTINENT. How's Africa? I don't know. But I could tell you about Botswana. And yes it's sad, but it's filled with so many success stories. And…. Oh. Ok. Right.
End of attention span.
People think that they want to hear about what I'm doing. Of course they ask questions, but most of them are so superficial there's no way it paints a clear picture of my service. And usually, after a few cut & dry questions, the conversation fizzles out.
What I do isn't always pretty. It's emotionally exhausting, physically challenging, and mentally demanding. The decision to be here is one that I make every day. I've mentioned that I love it here and that's no lie. I love that I have the opportunity to try to make a difference. I love that I'm welcomed into a culture that was foreign to me just last year. I love the life-long relationships I've built with some very special people here.
But my blog is only a small taste, a small glimpse of what's going on with me. Unless you've taken the time to email me, pick up the phone, or write a letter, you most likely don't know me anymore. You know the old me that is a part of who I am today, but you aren't seeing what I see when I look in the mirror these days.
I've changed. A lot. My perspectives, my values, my dreams, my fears… they've changed. In 19 months, I've changed for the better. I've become broken. I've been put back together. I've felt alone. I've rejoiced in unity.
So why am I saying this all now?
I'm starting to think seriously about my future after my Peace Corps service ends, which means updating resumes. It means job searches. It means putting a lot of puzzle pieces together.
It means that not only did I have to figure out how to put together sound bites of my service for friends and family at home, now I have to turn two years into two lines on a resume.
How can I describe all the children I play with at the OVC (Orphans & Vulnerable Children) Center? How can I explain the stories of heartache the youth experience in child-headed households? How can I write about the patients we have lost at the clinic? How can I communicate my own personal growth?
It's frustrating. And heartbreaking.When I go home, this is all going to be the past. Memories. No one else will fully understand.
So as I'm trying to turn my service into a few keywords, I will also be writing furiously in my journal, compiling video clips into a montage, and documenting all my favorite photos. I will be trying to find ways to keep my service alive so that when I return to the hustle and bustle in America, I won't forget.
This time is too precious to me to forget. And please, when I'm with you, ASK. Ask me - - anything. Each of you have moved on with your lives and things have changed. Believe me, I have a LOT of catching up to do with a LOT of people when I come back. But I'm just one person for you.
Let's share our experiences together to keep them alive.
Love & Light,