See you on the flip side.
Yes, you, woman profiled in the Times for your carry-on packing prowess.
You ain’t got nothin’ on two years of Peace Corps training.
The Peace Corps stresses sustainability. Projects won’t be supported if there is no clear plan for the continuation of the work after the volunteer leaves, or if the skills necessary aren’t transferred to individuals locally. While sometimes limiting and occasionally frustrating, it’s a good rule to follow in community development, and a strong starting point for discussions with community work partners. If we begin this project, who will be in charge of A or B? What happens after three weeks, nine months, a year? How do we guarantee this will last?
As a result, most of the projects Peace Corps volunteers complete are things that we can assume will stand the test of time, active long after a PCV leaves site. Except when they don’t.
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Another volunteer recently introduced me to simply breakfast. It should be noted that Morocco, while awash in innumerable fine fruits and vegetables, has no blueberries. Or muffins. Or brown sugar. Or non-laughing cow/edam cheese.
I’m really excited about the blueberries.
Re: the previous post:
I’ve not fully processed that I’m leaving. I know, intellectually, that I’m leaving my village, my house, and my pile of books, but I leave all the time. I leave for the weekend to see a friend, I leave for a few days to help with health lessons or to run a workshop – sometimes I leave for two whole weeks because I’ve gotten the idea in my head that it would be fun to help run a camp on the other side of the country. But I always come back.
I’ve started cleaning out my house, sorting, and packing some small amount of my things. I don’t think I’ll really comprehend, though, that I’ve left for good until two or three weeks after I’m gone, when I’m not waiting for the train back south or the bus to finally arrive. And then I’m not sure just how I’ll react; probably with the emotions I’m supposed to be feeling now.
I’ll be pretty busy until that moment hits, though. I mean, I have to finish packing. And then I have to close out my paperwork in Rabat, and then…well, then I’m going to Istanbul*.
*No! Really! Five days, four nights, infinite amounts of street food.
Shit just got real.
I’m not sure what my reaction here should be. Initially my mind just went blank, and then I thought, well, yeah. I mean, I’m honestly a little surprised we didn’t pair this with crystal pepsi.
But on the other hand, WEIRD!
“The first thing that happens is that you experience culture shock very much like what you went through upon first arriving in your overseas country of assignment. You may do so for the very same reason: You have just entered a foreign country, foreign in almost all the same ways your host country was when you got off the plane. That is, having adjusted to another culture, many of the behaviors and living conditions of your home culture now seem as “different” to you (surprising, confusing, disgusting) as those of Ghana or Bolivia did during your first weeks abroad. In short, as you adjusted to Fiji or Bolivia, that place became home, and your real home, inevitably, became a foreign country.”
— PC Re-Entry Handbook
…Can I still use bread as a spork?
Every so often, you wonder how much impact you have as a volunteer, or just what your impact truly is. Beyond ‘work’ as we consider it on development projects, a large part of our job description is community integration. We become a part of our communities, we make friends. But when it’s time to leave, the fact remains that we do indeed get to do just that, leave. Emotions run high, and change day to day from happiness, gratitude, pride, and nostalgia, to sadness, loneliness, and a rather large amount of guilt. The guilt stems from any number of things; maybe you feel like you could have done more, tried harder. Mostly, though, it’s because you get to leave.
I’m not going to make much more comment, except that I’ve been humming this song a lot lately.
PS - The William Shatner/Ben Folds cover of this song is 14 times better than the original.