I often wonder to myself… will I ever be able to leave Fiji and adjust back to life in America?? On the other hand I constantly ask myself… can I do this for another year??
One year ago today, I gave up the many comforts I had at home (my family, a job I loved at Chimney Corners, hot showers, Mexican food, good coffee, and amazing friends) to join the Peace Corps. I willingly stepped out of my comfort zones to move across the world in order to lend a hand, live in a new culture, fulfill a desire to seek new adventure, and gain personal insight. As I just turned 24 and am shocked this sneaky one-year mark caught up to me, I am forced to reflect on the past year.
I could use a million adjectives in the attempt to describe the feelings and adventures that have filled the past 12 months. It is nearly impossible to express the wide range of emotions, thoughts and experiences that have been packed into this short year. In brief, I have had some of the best days of my life, felt love from complete strangers, done some of the things I will regret most, felt more alone than I ever have before, spent way more money than expected, made amazing lifetime friends who I will greatly miss, longed for home more than I ever imagined, learned that I in fact do like children, and understood that I am much more of an introvert than I realized. In addition, I have learned that life is indeed very very simple. All of these things have been learned through incredible ups and downs/ highs and lows. Because so many extreme good times, extreme bad times, glad times, and tears have been crammed into this year’s time, I have experienced a serious mind twist. Some month’s feel like a day and some days feel like a month. But overall, I think time has been flying. When I look back on the past year, all I can wonder is where did it go?!
Through this whirlwind, I am proud of the things I have accomplished, but I also am concerned that I am half way through my Peace Corps service and there are so so many more things I aim to complete. I’ve hardly scrapped the surface of my TO ACCOMPLISH LIST (but then again, I am my own worst critic). Let me take a minute to detail some of the things that have filled my past year… I have spent countless hours in the library working with students who can’t recognize their alphabet, attended multiple girl guides and scouts camps, given women’s empowerment talks, done tons of health talks and screenings, planted a million papaya trees, substitute taught, had numerous cultural discussions over tea and crackers, conducted an NCD prevention workout program, eaten way too many mangos, and gone on multiple outreach programs. So as year two begins, my main goal is to increase access to clean drinking water! My project grant has been submitted so let the process of waiting, transporting materials to an outer island, and motivating local counterparts begin! Pray this can be pulled off in another short year.
In a nutshell, I feel so incredibly lucky for the adventures and lessons I have experienced! I love being here in Fiji and living in a remote island village even though there are times the beautiful scenery around me appears ugly. This experience honestly has been the toughest job that I have ever loved, but I am excited to continue this whirlwind roller coaster of experiences, smiles, and emotions! I am right on course for another year of eating cassava, taking cold bucket showers, cuddling with my dirty puppy (Rocky), octopus hunting, spending time surrounded by others yet feeling alone, drinking dirty water (kava), killing rats, eating seaweed, learning more about the culture I am completely submersed in, practicing my Fijian, and making new friends.
So, it’s cheers and tears to the halfway mark!