It feels surreal to say that I’ve been living in Africa for one year. One year ago, I was anxiously awaiting my departure, trying to cram my life’s belongings into Peace Corps' 100 pound weight limit, and saying goodbye to friends and family.
I remember comparing the waiting period to the feeling to jumping off a
cliff without being able to see what’s beneath you. I had no idea what to expect.
Had I packed the right things? What would the weather be like? The food? The
clothing? Would I be able to learn Kinyarwanda? Would I stay in touch with
friends and family, or would I come back to people I hardly knew anymore? What
if I was one of those people who arrived and promptly booked a ticket on the next
plane back home, too scared to leave my comfort zone and flushing toilets?
|Saying goodbye to my Mom at the airport one year ago|
I had never been to any country in Africa before and I was intensely curious; I stayed up late reading blogs of current volunteers, googling pictures of Rwanda, and emailing Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) friends with a million questions. But the truth is, no one really knows what it’s like to be in the Peace Corps before you’re actually in it. So I took the plunge.
|My Rwandan Mama|
|Love of my life|
|I've had a lot of time to practice my passion fruit skills|
More than anything, Peace Corps has taught me, and is still teaching me, how to live outside my comfort zone. I’ve reached a new normal. Taking bucket showers are normal. Brown-outs of electricity and slow internet are normal. Riding in a bus the size of a minivan with 25 people, and possibly animals, is normal. Rwandans describing people as “fat” or “old”, to their face, and exactly zero people being offended, is normal. Only understanding half of a conversation and uttering a vague “ehh” as if I’ve comprehended all the Kinyarwanda is normal. Boiling and filtering all my water is normal. People staring at me whenever I walk out of my house is normal. A meal at a restaurant taking two hours to arrive is normal. Men casually carrying machetes and everyone carrying things on their head are normal.
|Goal yet to be accomplished: carrying things on my head|
|Speaking of being afloat...|