Yes, like the Bon Jovi song.
Congrats, SA24, we’re halfway there. Thirteen months, sometimes long, sometimes short. We came, we saw, we adjusted. We no longer flinch when handed some unidentifiable goat innards for lunch, can flawlessly shrug off advances from 60 year old men, and are masters at self-diagnosing the various causes of diarrhea. We no longer feel like the newbies, and all of us have unbelievable war stories.
On a serious note, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that my service is halfway over. Peace Corps is the hardest, most frustrating, and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I’m independent and self-reliant in a way I never thought was possible. I’ve gained a new understanding into my life and the lives of my villagers. Sometimes that is heartwarming, and other times it’s heartbreaking.
Peace Corps is a series of extremes. Extremely joyous, extremely sad, extremely angry, extremely lonely, extremely satisfied….I can only assume life in the US will be boring after being in the Peace Corps and its emotional roller coaster.
Some days, I am happy to be halfway through. There are days when I simply want to go into my room and cry, or escape to town and rant to other volunteers. Perhaps it was one whistle, one beg for money, one request for me to be a typist, or one advance too many. Maybe I am frustrated because my attempts at improving things are school are being ignored, pushed aside, or fought against. Maybe it was something entirely unrelated-my phone froze again, my water bottle leaked inside my bag, my stomach was hurting, or the shop was out of bread. These things happen often, and they can make things miserable.
But more often, it scares me to be halfway through. I am not ready. I’ve not accomplished half of the things I wanted to do, and there’s no way I’ll be ready to leave my village in 13 months. I’m the last PCV my school will have, and I feel pressured to make an impact that makes up for the PCV that won’t be coming after me. I work hard to try and make my work sustainable and lasting, so that when I leave, my school is better off than when I came. But two years isn’t enough time. It feels like a big clock is tick, tick, ticking away, counting down to my absence. At 13 months, 11 of them in my village, I feel like I’m just now grounded, just now knowing enough to get things done. It takes a long time to start being effective, and now I don’t have that much time left. What happened?
Other PCVs, worldwide, say the second year goes the fastest. I know I’ll be sitting here in 6 months, 8 months, or 12 months, scratching my head and frantically trying to wrap things up. I can’t push that away, or ignore it. That’s the harsh part about a two year commitment-it’s limited. Though I could apply to extend/spend more time here, there are several reasons why that’s not practical.
So, it’s two years. Oops, I mean 13 months. When did that happen?