I kept thinking it would be nice to come back to this and reflect back on my service and having just surpassed my year mark of being back in the States (how did that happen??), it seems like it’s time.
In addition to this, Peace Corps just had a global evacuation of all PCVs due to COVID-19. My heart goes out to all the PCVs who were pulled from their sites too early and too quickly. I wish them the best as they reflect, mend, and transition with a world that is in crisis.
Many people talk about the transition going from service to the U.S. as being more difficult than the transition from U.S. to service. The most difficult part of my transition back was feeling very disconnected from Peace Corps and Colombia very quickly. It sometimes felt like a distant dream. It can be difficult to keep up with friends, both locals and volunteers, even though we have the technology (shout out to WhatsApp!) In trying to readjust to life in the States and starting a new job and moving…it’s easy to get wrapped up in the details. It is just as easy to settle into regular life and realize it has been a month since contacting someone you used to be in touch with almost daily. This is something I had to work on.
Looking back on my service and the year I have had since then, there are so many things I miss and am glad to have experienced in my service. The chance to be a part of an amazing community and make friends who taught me many things, including dancing, weaving, and what sort of treats from the bakery were the best, is at the top of my list. I miss walking around town and chatting with people as I went and people inviting me to sit on their porch and hang out as I went by. I miss knowing I could go to a friend’s house and even if they weren’t there, there were family members and neighbors who also wanted to check in. I miss the local dishes and markets and all the fresh fruit juices. And mango verde with salt and lime. I miss the sunsets. I’m grateful I had the chance to stay for a third year and travel, experience new communities, and meet many amazing people. Ultimately, the relationships with friends, community members, students, staff, and volunteers are what meant the most and what will stay with me.
There were many challenging things about service, from sweating profusely all the time (and having people point it out constantly), to work frustrations, to questioning what it means to be an (North) American serving in another country, and more, but those were also valuable parts of my service and it would not have been nearly as full without it all. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this adventure.
They say Peace Corps is the toughest job you’ll ever love…
and that certainly rang true for me.