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I leave my house for work and get called over by two village women awaiting their chance to do business with the chief. The first smiles...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Oops! I did it again!

Over three years ago, I arrived in Lesotho and I fell in love...not with a person (sorry gentlemen and Aunt Betsy who is convinced I will come home engaged!), but with the country, its culture, and its amazingly open, welcoming, and friendly people.

Last year, when the close of my Peace Corps service approached, I politely said, "Kea hana!," or I refuse. I extended my service and stuck around for an extra year as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader. 

For me, the first two years of my service were overwhelmingly wonderful. Living in my rural village, working with villagers in Sesotho, experiencing a new culture...none of it lived up to Peace Corps' tagline as "The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love." 

Although my "job" itself still is not difficult, this third year, by comparison, has been a lot tougher mentally and emotionally. I said goodbye to the PC volunteers I was closest to as they returned to America. I spent July to December traveling constantly back and forth between Peace Corps trainings and my village. My brother left suddenly to work in the mines. I then had to say goodbye to my beloved Basotho family and villagers. I spent more time in the US than anticipated when my father suddenly passed away at Christmas. I returned to Lesotho ready to integrate into my new community only to face security issues while readjusting to life without my father on the other end of the phone. 

I cried only twice during my first year here, whereas my third was punctuated by emotional moments in both Lesotho and America. 

Despite these challenges, I cannot imagine being anywhere else. The things I shared a year ago when I announced my extension are just as valid today as they were then. 

And so, with glee, I am happy to share that I've done it again!

I have once again extended my Peace Corps service including my work with both Peace Corps and Sentebale until August 2018! 

Five Reasons I Can't Leave Lesotho

See article here.

5. My current career goals and dream job are on the chopping block.

My top career goals for a post-Peace Corps life include International Development and Foreign Service work. With so much Federal foreign aid and State Department funding in question this year, almost no one connected to government dollars is hiring. I am hoping that after the dust settles on the fiscal changes anticipated this year, NGOs and maybe even government will eventually be hiring again. But right now, there are not any opportunities out there to which I could apply. Continuing what I am doing now is better than struggling to find inspiring work somewhere else.

4. Peace Corps makes me happy.

Rocking a Sentebale sweatshirt at the recent
Day of the African Child Commemoration
in Lesotho.
Really, truly, joy-filled happy. It is not easy. It is not boring, It is not full of those poignant moments that people make movies about. 

It is dirty. It is exhausting. It requires flexibility. It requires more patience than any American can develop by staying home. It is, even after three years, exhausting to navigate life in a different culture. Some days, even the most expensive produce in the country cannot top the dream of nachos and red wine in my sister's living room. Despite these things, I absolutely love it. 

3. Professional development

I am being given absolutely astounding opportunities through both my Peace Corps Volunteer Leader role and my work with my host organization. The skills I am developing are only going to improve my chances of finding work in international development or nonprofit management when I finally move on from Peace Corps Lesotho. Many of the skills I am improving upon are the very areas I needed more experience in like budgeting, capacity assessment, and long-range planning against a strategic plan.

2. Basotho ba batle! 

Basotho are beautiful and, in this case, I am referring to their inner beauty. (Although the longer I avoid mainstream American media, the more obvious every person's physical beauty becomes too!) As evidenced in their idiom Motho ke motho ka batho, the Basotho culture really emphasizes the importance of putting people first. I value this aspect of their culture in profound ways. Without it, my role as a PCV would be much harder. My welcome as an outsider would be more reserved. My connection to this beautiful country would be dramatically lessened. My own countrymen could gain a lot by adopting this attitude and mindset.

The only family I love as much as the one I was born into!

1. Lelapa lesu le metsoalle ea ka

My host family and my friends fill me with joy and love, even though I no longer see them every day, week, or even month. Putting off that big goodbye another few months is a healthy form of procrastination. I know that I will eventually have to say goodbye for more than a few weeks or months, however, at this point, I am just not ready to do so!


Tracy Rayburn said...

Happy you are happy and continuing in what provides you enrichment and joy.

Beth said...

Thanks Tracy!!! I think of you often and miss your creative and vibrant spirit!

Vicki Arvia said...

So happy for you! Love reading about your adventures! So proud to know you!