I hope everyone’s doing well. I’m feeling pretty good about how things are going. I’m sitting in an open office, listening to the sounds of rural life slip and slide their way into a peri urban area – I’m in a conference room at the Chalimbana Farmers Training Institute, I’ve spent the last 8 hours of my day working on Technical sessions and putting together the curricula for our new trainees! We’re all really excited for their arrival, and honestly we can hardly wait to welcome them to our family.
I’ve just put on some tunes to give myself a little familiar background noise and let me focus in, clearing my mind of the day’s work and focusing in on my memories from the last month. I need the mental break, to recall the whirlwind of emotions, activities, and feelings I’ve had over the last month. My last update was about development, and our role as Peace Corps Volunteers and how that can be frustrating for us as well. I won’t dwell on that, but I will note that it’s a concern and feeling that hasn’t dissipated or subsided. It’s still strong, even as I sit over a thousand kilometers from my village. I feel that it’ll stay with me for the rest of my service, and perhaps after. I will need to rectify it, bringing it into alignment with the success and fuller understanding of the change and impact my service has had.
The last few days in April were a blur, I was asked to step up to the plate and cover as Peace Corps Volunteer Leader of the week, and got to help prepare the office for the arrival of our new Peace Corps Volunteers. The beginning of May saw the swearing in of the new LIFE and RAP volunteers, and their subsequent posting to their various provinces. We received a fantastic group of six energetic, passionate, and adaptable volunteers who had a very serious but open and respectful approach to their service. Willing and able to roll with the punches, figure out where to fit in, and already well down the path of understanding how to cope with life in the rural lifestyle of Zambian villages. We were able to help them get familiar with the provincial capital, took them shopping and to the open markets, walked them through what would be useful and what they could wait to buy, and get them set up for their community entry.
It was a bittersweet moment for me, seeing new friends and colleagues arriving in the province, but with the heavy knowledge that I’d possibly only see them one more time after we set them up at their sites. That’s definitely a hard feeling to manage. Wanting to share so much of your experience with your colleagues, trying to share pointers. All the while, making sure not to overwhelm them in an already stressful situation. Then remaining engaged and participating fully with your new friends, despite the knowledge that your own service is wrapping up. I think I was able to manage a suitable balance, remaining engaged, and trying to contribute positively to their experience and form relationships – after all, we always want to leave things better than we find them, and we never know what the future holds for us. There’s never an excuse for discounting friendships and people just because you may be leaving soon in the future.
We had some really great nights, singing, playing instruments, conversing, and enjoying the buzz of energy and positivity surging from them as they prepared themselves for their three month community entry. Each day of the next week we waved them off as they packed up the cruiser and two by two were taken out of Mansa to their respective communities.
As they began to filter out, our work done as supportive PCVs, I headed out back to my own comfortable village existence, and slipped into deeper contemplation on my service, and what the future may hold.
It was a great few weeks, and on the 8th I was back to the crushing normalcy of wrapping up my service.