*I wrote this back in February on how I was adjusting. Sorry it took so long to post*
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
-Nelson Mandela, 'A Long Walk to Freedom'
I’ve been putting off writing this blog for a good long time now. I arrived back in Colorado two months ago and have tried to start multiple times but am continuously distracted by the wonders of high speed internet, movies and good craft beers. But I’ve done a lot of “reflecting” the past couple weeks and think I may be ready to put my thoughts and emotions into concrete words. So I’m going to try and we’ll see what I produce.
Leaving Dombe, and ultimately Mozambique, was tough. Overall I felt ready to go and was happy to be finishing the school year but actually getting on the chapa for that final trip through the mountains was surprisingly emotional. One of the last national exams was underway that morning and as Mona and I ran to the road with what was left of our possessions on our backs, proctoring teachers waved goodbye from their classroom doors and I caught sight of a few kids watching from a neighbor’s quintal. We barely spoke on that three hour ride, both of us fighting back tears and headphones firmly in our ears, but by then I feel like Mona and I had figured out how to gauge the others state of emotion. Really no words were needed. It helped knowing someone else knew how I felt.
Chimoio and Maputo were blurry with final adventures, teary goodbyes and a fair number of Manicas. My two years of service were ending and a part of me felt like I had just arrived. As I hopped around outside Marika’s office, anxiously waiting to get my final signature and that sought after ‘R’ (I would then be an RPCV or Returned Peace Corp Volunteer), I began to allow myself to look forward to what was happening next – Cape Town, Greece and ultimately Americaland! And those trips were incredible. The final days of Peace Corp-esque life in Cape Town with wine tours, great white shark diving, hiking and daily happy hours. The history and pure astonishment at every site in Greece and the time spent catching up with family over glasses of wine and Greek specialties. But I was ready to be back in the States with a few luxuries, my friends and my car.
So now it’s February and I’ve had all the foods I had been missing, caught up with friends around town and with those more distant on Skype and that fancy gchat thing, got a well-paying although mindless job and am saving money for my next big adventure. But lately I feel like something is missing. So many of the amazing things in America that I dreamed of from my little bed in Dombe have lost their shine. Day to day life over there was often repetitive and could be tedious but the little challenges and unexpected tasks kept me on my toes. And looking back, even the small annoyances I complained about were charming in a way - a neighbor child telling me I was cooking my beans incorrectly, a student knocking on my door at 7am with a homework question and even hand washing my laundry. Now you may be thinking that those things are charming now that I’m away from them and you’d probably be right. I think what I’m missing is the simplicity of it all. Two years of that quiet, straightforward life left me unprepared for the constant hustle and bustle of the U.S. and it’s starting to take a toll on my psyche. The things I thought were so important before just don’t seem as necessary now. And with the tragic flooding happening over in Moz, where over 200,000 people are displaced without clean drinking water or proper medical care, I’ve been getting more fed up with the greediness and materialism I see so often here. I’m not innocent of this charge myself but what I saw throughout Mozambique has given me a perspective too few people here understand.
I’m happy to be home with my family and friends, don’t get me wrong, but when left alone with my thoughts I often feel disheartened. The last two years have been about service and to some degree personal sacrifice. I wasn’t exactly saving the world but I was there to help my students and community by bringing them skills, opportunities and knowledge. I felt like I had a greater purpose, that my work was meaningful. My current job is mindless and thankfully temporary. It is what I need right now – good pay, flexible schedule, nice coworkers – but it’s not exactly benefitting anyone nor it is mental stimulating or getting me any closer to a more permanent work situation. The idea of suffering through a job I hate just to make money doesn’t sound like a future I want. So I’m looking into opportunities abroad that focus on service, sustainability, environmental awareness and social entrepreneurship. And in the meantime I’ll be spending the summer back in Africa working for an amazing Denver-based company with similar ideals.
**And now I'm here in Rwanda with ThinkImpact. More to come!**