(This was written a few days ago, and I was returning to SA)
I’m en route to SA right now, and while I’m stranded in my seat due to a little turbulence and a “seat belt required” sign, I figured now is a good time to reflect on my visit to America and its impact on my service.
Obviously, I am going back. I am not ET-ing to stay in America.
Some people have commented on how I am brave to go for a visit mid-service, and how they could never do that because they wouldn’t return. And as it got closer and closer to my trip to America, I was just waiting: waiting to see my friends and family, eat good food, enjoy warm weather, be anonymous, etc. But once I got to America, I realized that there’s really nothing for me to stay for. Now don’t get me wrong, I do miss my family and friends, and seeing them was amazing. But my time in America was almost a hiatus on life. I didn’t have a job, wasn’t in school, didn’t have any truly purposeful things in my life to come back to. And as my time in America went on, I found myself just waiting….to come back.
You see, the thing about PC is that even though it’s hard, frustrating, full of roadblocks, lonely, and maddening….it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime, meaningful experience. I have projects in my village that I am responsible for, and people are counting me to come back and continue to train and teach. I don’t have anything like that in America, but I do in Africa. And giving up on that for good food and showers just isn’t worth it. If I leave my village, I am letting down 14 teachers, 391 learners, and 2,800 villagers. Not to sound cocky or anything, but my presence in the village is one of the few times in their lives that someone will CARE about them or the village. The government doesn’t care, NGOs don’t seem to care much, and South Africans don’t care. I do, and I am able to have a unique impact on the lives of my villagers. I will likely never see the changes, but I know my Peace Corps service is meaningful, to them and to myself.
Leaving my family, friends, and dogs again was hard, but not near as hard as giving up on my African family and African home. I only have two years to impart knowledge and skills to my village in order to insure a more sustainable future for them, and a whole lifetime to stay and work in America. There won’t be another PCV in my village, at least not for many years because of a change in PCSA’s policy, so it’s up to me.