So the time has finally come. I am about to complete my two years of service in the Peace Corps. Even though I know my mom would beg to differ, the time has truly flown past for me. I find it almost unbelievable that I am now 24 years old; it feels like yesterday that I graduated from college and got on that plane.
Many people have and will be asking me “So how was Peace Corps?”, and right now I’m finding that question difficult to answer. I think I need more space and more time between me and Pohnpei for me to judge the situation clearly. These past two years have been the most challenging experience of my life, both physically and emotionally. I feel I am much stronger because of it, but I’m not sure yet what else I have gained from my time here in service.
I faced so many obstacles along the way, countless frustrations, and endless illness. I had a good local friend die, a family member and a friend back home as well. I experienced many failures and mistakes, and often felt isolated and alone. I think I will need more time to process everything before I can call this “the toughest job you’ll ever love” (Peace Corps’ favorite catch phrase).
But even so, a part of me is sad to leave. Despite all the hardships, I do care deeply about many of the people I’ve met here. My family has been an endless source of help and support, and I will truly miss them. Several of my students and co-teachers impacted me in ways they will never know. And not to mention the American friends I’ve made that supported me through it all, both Peace Corps Volunteers and Jesuit Volunteers. Those young men and women are incredible and I am proud to call them my friends. So getting on that plane next week will definitely be bittersweet.
Already I feel like I’m living in a surreal reality. My room is becoming more and more empty, as I begin packing, throwing away things, and donating others. I just had the goodbye party at my school yesterday, and my family and I are planning something special for this weekend, my last weekend. So many lasts. I’m trying frantically to get everything in that I want to do before I leave, acknowledging that some of my bucket list will just never get done.
So as Friday draws near, I’m trying my best to soak up all that I can. Even with all the frustrations that came with my service, I will never again have this unique experience and that in it itself is worth appreciating.
Thank you to everyone who helped and supported me along the way. I honestly couldn’t have done it without you.
I’ll see you all on the other side!