Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wrap Up

Feel the end to tie up this blog in a neat little bow. Unfortunately can't quite do that. I was hired at a great non-profit in April but I'm waiting for my actual work to begin almost two months later. Three friends from Arizona moved to Illinois. But we don't get to see each other all the time which I miss. My friend M and I would go to the movies every Sunday. I enjoy my work and my co-workers are great people but when I complain to my friends they tell me it sounds familiar. They remind me I had the same complaints when I was an AmeriCorps which means I haven't changed as much as I thought. I'm exercising now and began the couch to 5K training and Bikram Yoga and feel great but I am eating crap like it's going out of style. I am overall happy and grateful for everything that has happened in the past five months since returning home. I still have a ways to go in achieving my goals; return to school, learn to smile more and get my health back on track. While much of my blog are complaints I would definitely join Peace Corps again. My advice is anyone thinking about joining talk to returned volunteers. Think beyond the romantic idea of going overseas and saving a community. Understand you may have days upon days of nothing happening or you may be so busy you won't know up from down. Peace Corps is difficult, scary, exciting, boring, challenging, horrible and a great adventure. It is not for everyone but it is something to strive for. As I wrote it's not a nice and neat little bow but it's the truth and I hope it helps.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Interview time

Tomorrow is my first interview since returning to the States. A bit nervous but also very excited. Thankfully had a few days to prepare and plan. Only one sour note, still waiting for my readjustment settlement from Peace Corps. Readjustment settlement is the money volunteers receive after service. Each month of service equals I believe (cant really think right now) $225 towards your readjustment. It's very helpful while you begin your job search. Unfortunately I have a long wait which creates a huge stressor. But deep breath everything works out in the end.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Growing pains

As an RPCV or returned volunteer I find my home has increased. I am an American but South Africa is my second home. Attached is an opinion piece regarding the growing pains SA is facing as she reaches 20.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/17/opinion/keller-south-africas-growing-pains.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Now what?

One week later and the question is what do I do now? Yesterday I was out with my mother running errands and she had a few questions. What was the purpose of Peace Corps? Do you have a plan? So first question, why Peace Corps? Peace Corps is definitely not for everyone and is a very personal choice. For me I wanted to join Peace Corps for years. I had applied multiple times in the past and later would pull my application. When it finally seemed like my life was in such a state that Peace Corps could fit; laid off, debt under control, I thought now is the time. Peace Corps provided the opportunity to live and work overseas. But more than that it provided several life lessons that are still revealing themselves one of which is, heaping amounts of patience. Things that once bothered me seem ridiculous to worry about now. My service provided time for self reflection; to see how I keep making the same mistakes over and over professionally and personally.

Next part do I have a plan? Well yes and no. I know I need to complete my Master's degree and learn a language. I have thoughts and ideas but unfortunately nothing firm at this point. So now begins the what now portion of the RPCV (returned Peace Corps volunteer) journey. For a woman that likes to have a clear plan this is a bit frightening.  

Finally I went on vacation

I did not take a vacation until the end of my service. Now understand I took weekends to decompress but never really took a vacation. During the first three months we are not allowed to travel outside of our area. After that I attended a training or a meeting almost every three weeks. Then had a site change. Finally everything settled down after the PSTs, meetings and trainings. I had more than forty days of holiday and vacation time and went to Pretoria for a few weeks to wait for my mother to join me in South Africa. During this week with my mother I saw a side of South Africa that would be hidden from me. The Blue Train, five star hotels and private tours. It was amazing and helped me to finally fall in love with my host country and forget for a time the low points that sometimes came with serving in an overseas community.



















 

Christmas in South Africa

Christmas 2012 I stayed in my new village and spent time with my supervisor and a few co-workers. It was a nice time and showed me you don't need presents to celebrate Christmas. The most important items for a wonderful Christmas are; family/friends, music and food. For Christmas 2013 I decided to celebrate in the big city with being in the city. The owner of the backpackers I was residing in invited me and a few guests to his home to celebrate with his family. This Christmas I saw a traditional western celebration with lots of presents, Christmas crackers (traditionally seen in the UK) and lots of food and alcohol and two really big dogs. It was another example of how South Africa is always walking a line between western culture and African culture.













Friday, January 31, 2014

01/28/2014


So it’s finally here the day I longed for those few years and months back. I am officially a returned Peace Corps volunteer. And I have to say it’s not at all what I imagined. I pictured I would be leaving in February. It’s now January. I pictured I would have the itinerary and tickets in hand for a fantastic trip filled with safaris, buses and trains from here into northern Africa, thru Europe and then detour thru Asia finally visiting friends from the west coast as I head east. Instead I have a ticket straight home. I envisioned telling Peace Corps how disappointed I was in their support and how I felt like Ripley in space sending out a distress signal but no one shows up until fifty years later. Instead I talked to the acting CD calmly about concerns I had and areas of strength and improvement and reminisced about working with the kids in the crèche and the young boy that impressed me with his knowledge and questions regarding HIV/AIDS. My departure didn’t include my buddies from SA25 but a few lovely women from various cohorts whose company I enjoyed and am grateful they were there. My departure was filled with hugs, forms, needles, pills, illness, laughter, reflection, close call to tears, frantic errands, movies, shopping and some sleepless nights. It’s at the end of my service I realize Peace Corps is not what I imagined it to be or even expected. It consistently zigs to avoid my zags and laughs at the former AmeriCorps that thought she had it all figured out.