Monday, June 4, 2012

The Notion of Home

Hello Everyone!

Yes, I’m still here. Sorry for the lack of updates in May. With two weeks in Mozambique, a week running around trying to get library updates at the schools and garden updates at the NCP, then Bushfire and COS conference, I’ve now been home for this weekend, studying for the GRE, before I leave tomorrow for Joburg to take my test and then spend three days in town for my close of service physical. You aren’t the only ones wondering if I’m still around, my community is wondering too! Busy, busy, busy.

Anyway, I thought an update would be a perfect way to take a break from studying. Let’s see how much I can say before my guilt of avoiding studying gets the better of me.

Mozambique was wonderful as always. I’ll try to post some picturesr within the week during my medical. We traveled all the way up to Vilanculos this time, a new place for us. It was beautiful. Known for the Archipelago and as the best diving spots in the area, I didn’t get to see/do either, but I could imagine. I did make the decision to get my diving certification during our travels though. I haven’t wanted to spend 4 days of my vacation getting certified but when I have the time after COS, I figured, why not? Should be fun… right Mom? We came back from Vilanculos in a day, which was crazy. We were on public transport from 1am to 7pm, all the way from Vilanculos, Mozambique to Mankayane, Swaziland. I was impressed with myself.

I spent the next week trying to talk to all the school about library projects. The books were FINALLY filled and shipped from America so they’ll (hopefully) be here at the end of the month. We also received awesome news that our library at the Primary School was funded through the Kirby Simon Trust and the US Embassy! We hope to start building by the end of this week! (yeah right) I don’t technically have a role in this project, its between the school and the Embassy, so it shouldn’t delay me in my attempt to get out of here in the end of July, but I keep telling everyone it HAS to be done before I leave. We’ll see how far we get.

Then as soon as I got unpacked from Mozambique, it was time to head off to Bushfire/COS Conference. Bushfire is a large music/arts festival held at really the only large music venue in the country, House on Fire. There were lots of local artists, South African artists, African artists, and even a few American ones! If you’re interested in any, we thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy Loops and Mi Casa. Look ‘em up! It was nice to spend time with all the volunteers, especially since these times are numbered!!

My group then headed to our Close of Service Conference. It was an interesting day and a half. Talking about returning home, the logistics as well as the emotional side of it. You expect it to be hard and different when you come to a foreign place. “Swaziland? Yeah that’ll be weird.” But America is home and I guess we just think it’ll be like, well going home. And it’s not. In reality, home is the foreign place now. They say it can be as hard to leave the Peace Corps, as it is to be in it. And as one volunteer said, “My problem is I’m 23 years old and I’ve already had the experience of a life time.” How do you just go back to doing the same thing you did before after something like this? You can’t. Things have changed. I’ve changed.

It’s a weird concept for me to get a grasp of these days, that my Peace Corps service is over. For so long, it seemed never ending. Two years? God, that’ll take FOREVER! Well forever has come and gone and here I am with 8 weeks left. What am I supposed to do with my life now?

Travel. That’s my only answer, I guess. Delay the inevitable for a bit longer. Stay in my little bubble of a world that I’ve lived in for two years, where I can get up (or not get up) whenever I want, work (or not) whenever I want, and travel whenever I want with no real responsibilities, no real expenses. Hang onto my time in Africa for a few months longer; see as much as I can see. Victoria Falls, Lake Malawi, Mt Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar. Delay leaving the simplicity of life here; adding to it even, by living out of a backpack for 4 months. Move on to see this “Europe” I’ve learned so much about in my 23 years.

But eventually the inevitable will come and I’ll return home. On November 19 to be exact. I am excited, I really am. I miss my mom and dad and brother and sister. And all my friends and family. I miss good pizza, good coffee, the ability to choose from 50 different boxes of cereal, the ice rink, having a car. But I am extremely hesitant to leave this lifestyle. It was all so hard to get used to: the slow walk, the “we’ll do it eventually,” the showing up to a meeting whenever you can get there, if at all, attitude. But I adjusted. To the fact that I could just say I would be gone this day and that, and that was that. No real vacation days, no one saying, “well, no actually you can’t. you have to work.” And I’ll adjust again, eventually. It’ll just take time.

I remember when I was at school, getting confused which “home” was which: my apartment or my parents’ house? Now that confusion is a million times more. For two straight years, this community, this hut, this family: this is home. It’s where I’m known and respected. It’s where I feel safe and accepted. I have my routines and I understand theirs. Where I come to relax; where I walk in and think “Whew! I’m home!” America is where they speak my language, where we wear pants, where I was born and raised. Obviously that’s my home too. Minnetonka is where my family is, and my bed. But home, who really knows anymore?