Sunday, July 1, 2012

Here We Go Again

Hello again. Welcome back!

From now on, this blog can be considered the second part of my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Rwanda. A lot has happened since by my last blog post on… Wow!... March 31st. Sometimes even a blog writer needs a little R&R. For many of you, my silence seemed more like abandonment than vacation, but I assure you, I was anything but idle. It will take a few blog posts to get you caught up on all that I have been doing, all that has taken place, but here’s a start. Look for more updates coming soon.

 As you have probably guessed, the answer to my question, which I deliberated over endlessly, is a resounding YES, the echoes of which I can’t even begin to understand as I embark on another year of service. As I sat in my Close of Service Conference and Peace Corps administration discussed the process and challenges of returning to life in America, I had one of those light bulb moments that we refer to frequently, but in reality only happen a handful of times in one’s life. I realized I don’t want to go back. I am happy here. I have a purpose here. What am I going back to? Most importantly, it just felt right for me to stay, wrong to leave. So I followed my instinct, signed up again, and immediately began another endless ponder, wondering if I made the right decision, questioning my own sanity for extending after everything I had been through in the last two years. Humans truly are complicated, misunderstood creatures!

 Here I sit writing this in Kigali, preparing for another year of all the surreal experiences and fluctuating emotions of a year of service. Somehow, I have reached a frank understanding with this country. It is what it is. The ironic thing about that expression is, during my Pre-Service Training, which seems like a lifetime ago, the current volunteers came to share their experiences serving in Rwanda. We, the eager and naïve trainees, badgered them with questions about their life and work. In response to many of our questions, they replied, “It is what it is.” We were frustrated and angered by this insufficient response that gave no information, no insight. Now, I understand what they meant. How can you explain living life in a context that has no rules? Where every experience is so unique and different? Where your survival depends on your ability to internalize this mantra and let it guide you? Now, when asked about my own service, I recall the phrase to describe my own experiences- a few simple words that say so much. It is what it is. I know what it is. I am not sure if I can describe it to you, but I hope you have come to some understanding from reading this blog.

I am optimistic about next year. My understanding and acceptance of Rwanda has also resulted in a shift in attitude towards it. A lot is happening here, change is happening quickly, optimism is in the air. I see that something special and unique is taking place, and I am proud and happy to be a part of it. I am no longer focused on the small case of my village, but looking at the big picture and how I fit into it. It is really exciting.

I am also looking forward to different Peace Corps experience, the details of which I will soon share. I survived over two years living in a small, isolated village with no running water and barely electricity. I am happy that I don’t have to go back to it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I also wouldn’t do it again for anything. My new life in Kigali, although still a Peace Corps experience and not close to rivaling the ease of life in America, is well-earned and relatively comfortable. I have access to things I never had in the village and my new home has running water and regular electricity. These are luxuries that I only began to consider as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I was in a state of contemplation walking home from work the other day, and I couldn’t help but think, “I have done life in the village, I don’t want to go back to life in America. Somehow I found my middle-ground and that is exactly where I want to be right now.” This is exactly where I want to be right now.



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Greetings from Santa Marta, Colombia

Sean Cochrane said...

Great post - I'm so glad that you're happy where you are and with what you're doing. I may not have two full years under my belt, but I feel like I'm in a similar situation of appreciating where I currently am. Congratulations on finding that place. It was great getting to know you at boot camp, and it puts what you wrote here in a much deeper context. I can't wait to hear about what you do in the coming year! Cheers!