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Sunday, June 05, 2016

My Peace Corps Service Conclusion

Fresh off the plane, my training group's arrival in Lesotho
June 5, 2014
Exactly two years ago, I stepped off a small plane with 18 new friends and set foot in the country that would become my home for the next twenty-seven months. I was officially a Peace Corps Trainee.

People often ask me what my expectations were when I arrived in Lesotho. Usually this questions comes from Basotho, wondering what I expected of their beloved home. Thanks to the wonders of technology and a decent amount of travel before arriving in Lesotho, I did not develop many expectations of the country.

I did, however, have expectations about Peace Corps in general.

I expected living in a different culture, language, and country would be exhausting, strange, and constantly challenging. Some days it is, but usually, it is just life.

I expected I would constantly miss family and friends in America. I do, but I am blessed to live in a country with fairly reliable 3G cellular data and to own a small solar panel so I have been in contact with people more as a PCV than when I was sailing offshore.

I expected that both of these things would have me counting down the months, weeks, or even days until my service ended and I returned to America as a more aware, more global, and more patient version of myself. Instead, when I notice the passage of time, I do so with dread.

My training group at our recent Close of Service workshop.
With 24 of my 27 months of in country completed, it is obvious that I am nowhere near ready to leave. When I had only 12 of my 27 months completed, I knew I would not be ready to leave. When I visited friends and family in America at month 16, I warned them I might not be ready to leave.

So...as many of my training group is now counting down the 6 to 8 weeks until they finish their Peace Corps service in Lesotho, as they are saying their goodbyes and finalizing their travel, work, or graduation school plans, I am not.

Kea hana (I refuse). Ha ke batle ho tsamaea hana joale (I do not want to leave right now). Ke tla sala mo (I will stay here).

I am excited to officially announce that I will be staying in Lesotho and Peace Corps for a third year!

Instead of heading home in July or August 2016, I will be here until August 2017!

I will be serving as a PCVL or Peace Corps Volunteer Leader this year. In addition to working with my host organization, I will also work more closely with Peace Corps staff on a variety of things including training and site development.

I will stay at my beloved site in Botha Bothe for a few extra months to finish things like the chicken project and to watch my brother finish secondary school. Then, I will be moving to a new host organization, closer to Maseru and the Peace Corps office so that I am better able to do my work with Peace Corps.

Watching some of my closest friends in Lesotho move on toward their new adventures while I remain is not easy. I have not lived here without these people and I have a hard time imagining my life in Lesotho without them. But, I have an even harder time imagining what I would do if I had to leave this amazing place and these incredibly people in the next few months.

I dusted off my old yearbook skills and brought them into the new millenia for our Close of Service workshop. Check out my second ever attempt at making videos on my computer:


Susan Pederson said...

Good for you to extend another year! I have enjoyed following your adventures and look forward to another year!! The video was great!

Anonymous said...

Beth, congrats! I kind of figured you may extend, they are lucky to have you!