It’s official, I’m past the honeymoon stage. I have made it to one year in country (just under one year at site). Pause for effect.
And because I’ve had way too much time to think, I’m going to dedicate this post to a bunch of self reflective mambo jumbo. Harkening back to my Boston U days, I’ll take stalk of the past year in the form of roses and thorns. Or to make it Ethiopian friendly, mangos and lomis (limes).
– Learning a new language
– Slacklining with village kids during training
– Getting moved to Gondar from Desie
– Timket (Epiphany)
– Grassroot Soccer
– The girls faces during Camp GLOW
– Senegal and visting West Africa for the first itme
– Traveling Ethiopia
- Simien hikes
– Finally feeling like I know people in Gondar
– Hugs from kids
– The day we discovered the fresh bread bakery
– Anytime a care package or letter arrives
– Staying relatively healthy
– Learning a new very difficult language
– Getting sick
– The hurry up and wait syndrome of working here
– Rock throwing from kids
But these are all events. Some defining, some repetitive, all in the past. So far my mangoes outweigh my lomis, so I guess I’ll continue on. Persuasive I know, but that is how things go here, a weekly, daily, hourly re-commitment. An hourly, minutely, secondly, process of letting things go.
But what I really find interesting is my reaction to these things, the morphing of my personality. I would never say anything has “changed my life.” I believe I’m too strong (stubborn?) a person for that. These are difficult work environments, and people who come to find themselves tend to lose themselves further. What I do think the Peace Corps experience does is click the “boost” button in Photoshop. Those aspects of my personality that lay beneath the surface come up very clearly here, for better or worse. For worse- I see myself becoming harsher. While I let a lot roll off my back, the stuff that I don’t I am much quicker to anger, less likely to forget, and more apt to judge. I put on my happy face… less often than before. Maybe a better way to put it is that I have a shorter fuse for bullshit. For better – I appreciate passionate people much more. I have always been the “rational thinker,” putting less value on emotions (thanks to a family full of engineers), but I see the value in passionate people much more in this work environment. If you aren’t invested beyond the facts, nothing will get done. I am also more self advocating (that’s probably in the middle), a little pushier, but I know more what I want to happen. More sure of myself, and more flexible.
One year in, projects have been completed, and friendships have been created and grown. 15 months to go, trips to take, people to meet, and more hugs from kids around the corner. Here’s to one year, tough situations do not endure, tough people do.