Monday, September 26, 2011

There comes a time...

There comes a time when a Peace Corps Volunteer begins to think maybe they've done as much as they can.

Sometimes this time comes during the first year of service.

Sometimes this time comes during the second year of service.

In some occasions, when a volunteer extends, this time even comes during the third year of service....

There comes a time when a PCV begins to think about plans after Peace Corps:
What am I going to do? Travel? If yes, where? What about a job? Where? What type of job? And what about that non-competitive eligibility after finishing PC? Do I really want to work for the government?...

There comes a time when a PCV feels proud of all the small accomplishments he has had in his term of service.

There comes a time when a PCV feels the need to stop time and be able to continue living as they are for the rest of time.

There comes a time when a PCV needs to get a taste of America (pizza, cheese, stable electricity, a flushing toilet) and have a short break (read vacation) before continuing their service.

All these times comprise the ups and downs of Peace Corps service. In any given month it I find it possible that I may feel proud of what I've done one day and the next day I'll feel like I've done as much as I can. And then the next day I have another idea of something more I can give of myself to Kenya before my term of service is up.

It's hard to put the idea I'm trying to express into words - but there comes a time...

There comes a time when a PCV feels "old" in the country - when he doesn't know half of the PCVs in country any more; or when the PCV can provide detailed corrections to the information printed in a tour book (like Lonely Planet or Rough Guide)...

There comes a time when a PCV feels like he's a great asset to the community and feel like on top of the world.

There comes a time when a PCV feels like he's wasting time not really accomplishing much in the community.

There comes a time, near the end of service, when a volunteer realizes that all the downs of the roller-coaster of service were nothing compared to the ups.

There comes a time when a volunteer realizes that the true impact of the work he has done in the various communities in Kenya is not going to be visible during the short amount of time he is here..Yet he knows that his time here has been well spent and has been to the benefit of  the various communities and community members who've been in contact with him.

There will come a time when it's time to say "Well Kenya, it's been a good run. I'll keep you in my thoughts and in my heart. Both of us have grown and changed over the last few years. Until we meet again..."

There will come a time for me to say farewell to my home these past few years...But I shan't be sad when that day comes because when one adventure ends, another adventure begins. And who knows, maybe the main characters (friends/colleagues/etc) of one adventure may end up being in another adventure later on.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination." ~Don Williams, Jr. 

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with the newest group of trainees, who've since sworn in as full volunteers in Kenya.

The group of 50+ trainees was due to arrive around 10 or 11 pm...and due to some travel delays they ended up arriving in Kenya a bit later.

At any rate, the fun began when the other volunteers and I were playing "spot the trainee" when their plane arrived. It's a rather easy game to play - you look at the people getting their luggage and guess if they are a Peace Corps trainee or not. Sometimes it's easy to tell - for instance if they have more than 3 bags they are likely a PC trainee. Though that is not always the case. I remember seeing one guy who had just 2 carry on bags with him.

After a long period of waiting, we finally got all of them and most of their stuff on buses to the hostel where they would be spending their first few nights in Kenya. (I say most of their stuff because there was a few volunteers who had luggage delays).

During the first night, while they were there, I could not help but reflect on how I was dressed and how I must have looked getting off the airplane.

We stayed with the new trainees for a few days in Nairobi and we shared with them our experiences during our training - what our homestay was like..what the food was like...the first time using the choo (pit latrine)..and so on.

All of this brought back so many memories of the first few days, almost 3 years ago now, when I got off an airplane in Africa for the first time. I remember the excitement and anxiousness of getting in to the training and figuring out what we would be doing as volunteers.

Being around the new trainees, I felt a sense of nostalgia - I began remembering what it was like when I first began learning Kiswahili.

Then I found myself thinking, once again, of how far I've come. In 2 years and 23 months (to the day) I've come a very long way. I've changed in many ways which are beyond description. Kenya has also changed, of course.

In reality, I think that I have gained more than I have given to Kenya. For that reason I want to make sure that during my few remaining months I give back as much as I can to as many people as I can before the time comes for me to depart.

Life is full of opportunities, all we need to do is take them. For me, joining the Peace Corps has been a life changing experience that I am certain I will continue to cherish for the rest of my days.