It has been quite a while since I last posted on my blog, but I figured that this would be the perfect day to add one last reflection on my Peace Corps service in Rwanda. In case you don’t know, Peace Corps helped facilitate an early departure for me since my grandmother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and was given months to live. I was very happy living in Rwanda, but family always comes first. I was extremely close to finishing my service, so it was difficult to leave but was the best choice for me. In my final weeks I worked at a GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) camp, attended my group’s COS (close of service conference) and spent a lot of time visiting my friends in the village and trying to say goodbye to everyone. Pulling away for the last time was one of the saddest moments of my life. My friend Alice stood in the road with her son and a group of school children chased the car waving and shouting. I spent a few days in Kigali filling out all the government paperwork, and in a matter of days I was on a plane home.
Final visit with Alice and Arsene
Saying goodbye to my students
Other volunteers had warned me about the struggle involved in the process of integrating back into life in America, but to tell you the truth, I though it wouldn’t be a problem for me. And boy was I wrong. It was very difficult, and as much as I wish I could say I handled the transition with constant grace and kindness, reflecting on the past few months I can see that my demeanor has not always been very cheery. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to be home. I love my family and the privilege of living in America comes with so many wonderful amenities. I still shower all the time because the thrill of having hot running water is just too much to resist and I continually marvel at that beauty of indoor plumbing. But even with these perks, I found myself missing Rwanda with a fierce sadness that greatly complicated my transition home. I was used to living very independently and suddenly I was living with my family again. I was used to having an impact in my community on a daily basis, and suddenly I was not working and it felt like I wasn’t contributing anything to the world. Everything is just very different, and I am (somewhat) patiently trying to find a new normal.
One of my favorite people in Rwanda is Divine, the beloved student of my friend Heather. One day Heather was feeling sad about leaving and Divine shared with her a local proverb in Kinyarwanda:
Nta mvura idahita: there is no rain that doesn’t stop
So I suppose no matter how cranky or frustrated I am feeling about this transition I find comfort in the fact that eventually it will get better. The rain will stop and I will be fully happy again, it just takes a little time. I have been blessed with lots of babysitting jobs and spending time with children brings an enormous amount of joy to my life. I signed up to be a volunteer on the pediatric floor at the hospital and I look forward to starting my shifts when the mountain of paperwork finally goes through. And most importantly I am signed up to start school again to finish my prerequisites for medical school. In January I will finish the organic chemistry series, physics, and calculus. Not exactly my favorite topics but they are required for school and will hopefully help me succeed on the MCAT exam that I will take at the end of the summer. For now I am enjoying spending time with my grandmother and preparing for a future career in medicine.
I am still in touch with many of my friends from Rwanda and managed to get myself a little bit in over my head with sponsorship promises. My good friend Goreth is finishing college and even with the help of an amazing former teacher from Cheyenne I still need more help to assist her with school fees and living expenses. I hate to use my blog to solicit financial donations of any kind, and yet I don’t hate it enough to stop me from doing it. So here is my request: take a moment on this beautiful Thanksgiving day to reflect on all of the many blessings in your life. I am guessing for many of you that your education falls somewhere on your list. I never realized how fortunate I was until I lived and taught in Rwanda. I hope that some of you might be willing to contribute to Goreth’s education fund. Even a small amount would go a long way in helping her change her future. I will include the link to my fundraising page at the bottom of this post, please feel free to pass it along and share with anyone who might be interested. I felt a little weird doing this, but the last time I was on the “gofundme” homepage there was a girl raising money for a father/daughter weekend vacation and she had raised $900. So I figure if people can raise money for their vacations I can certainly buckle down and travel outside of my comfort zone on behalf of a dear friend.
Goreth at GLOW camp
Hanging out with Goreth outside the big church by my house
I hope that everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving, enjoy the day with your loved ones!