I am currently sitting on the bus going from Yaounde to Dimako, my post, for the very last time (of course for the first time my bus also broke down, only an hour into the 5 hour trip). After an unexpected medical issue, a burn on my leg from a motorcycle, dragged me to Yaounde to see the Peace Corps Medical Officer. I contemplate my service here and what it means to me. I have come to understand that the Peace Corps truly is the hardest job I’ll ever love.
I have loved my time here, I wouldn’t change my experience, nor do I regret coming here, but as my time is coming to an end I have been reflecting more and more. My time here has been plagued with doubts, fights, setbacks and if I am being honest I sometimes I have thought about throwing in the towel. Life here was harder than I thought it would be, not because it is not America, with all of its conveniences. I have learned to live without running water and electricity, no indoor plumbing, but that is the easy part. Adapting to the culture here was difficult, the instant celebrity status I receive because I am white, the million marriage proposals and constant “give me” demands. I realized that joining the Peace Corps was not going to be easy, but somehow I didn’t understand the demands it would have on me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There were definitely many times where I thought that I wouldn't be able to fulfill my service, even from the beginning, but here I am with two and a half weeks left in my service. I know that this experience has made me a stronger person, more resilient to obstacles, for that I am grateful.
I realize that many of my doubts here came from my job, as an education volunteer I don’t get to see the outcome of my work. I have been teaching my students here for two years now and I won’t see how they grow up or how they will use (if they do) what I taught them. While agricultural volunteers will be able to see the trees they plant mature, while they are still here or a business volunteer will be able to see a business improve their practices. Sometimes, not being able to see my impact on people makes me doubt my efforts here.
As I am getting ready to leave, I realize that the hardest part is yet to come; saying goodbye to the people here who have become my family and friends. When I said goodbye in America, I knew that in two years I would see them again. But now I don’t know when I will see the friends that I have made here, or if I will ever see them again, which makes this more difficult. I’m not sure I am quite ready to leave, but I don’t think I will ever leave completely. There will always be a part of Cameroon in me.
|A community garden that I helped plant in a friends' village 2.5 months ago|
|Look at how tall the trees are already!|
|Eddie came to my goodbye party in village (If you look close enough you can see my band for my moto burn)|
|Me with my favorite colleagues|
|The computer teacher and the sports teacher|
|Everyone all together!|
|Hanging out with ostriches in my village, no big deal|
|Where I have gotten my water for the past two years|
|That is where I do my laundry|
|Hanging out in Bertoua|
|A normal breakfast of beans and beignets, with some coffee of course|