I’m sitting in my classroom at the primary school and outside my door are kids running about on the field.
We’re celebrating Phagwah (or Holi), a Hindu festival of colors. The teachers have provided seven curry, the kids are ready to throw powder. I’m just happy to be here.
I’ve caught myself tearing up on my drives back and forth to Georgetown lately. Everytime I recognize how beautiful Berbice is with it’s rice fields and coconut tree forests or when one of my favorite soca songs play on the radio and I remember the people I danced with to them.
I like that I had a “normal” life here. Well, as normal as it might get for an American. One where I woke up in my own house, cooked my own breakfast, sipped on tea in while getting ready for work, washed my clothes in buckets, sat on verandas to gaff, said good morning and good night to my neighbors, went out for beers with friends after a long day, endured painful waits for cars and buses and boats and people, did nothing for days at a time, walked to the market every week, attended weddings and birthdays and dinner parties, paid my bills late and had my electricity cut off, participated in holidays and celebrations in my community, invited people into my house and into my life, and did so everyday for two years.
When I applied for Peace Corps, I half expected my experience to reflect the travel documentaries I love so much. But with how my time here unfolded, I can say that the things that made this experience extraordinary weren’t something I could film, record, or take a picture of. They were the kind of moments that while they were happening, you realized they were special. The kind of moments that could not have happened anywhere else. Moments that are strong enough to leave an impression in your memories, that when you think of them, you know those moments are irreplaceable. Moments you just have to keep to yourself. The ones you just had to be there for.
I had many of those moments.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll be starting over again. New town, new home, new strangers. New adjustments, new problems, new lessons. I am filled with excitement and anxiety. Many of you are curious about what’s next for me, but I don’t have any big plans to share with you. There’s a lot pressure to figure something out, but I’m just trying to come back to the US–with Mango, of course–and settle in.
I’ve moved around a lot in my life. From California to Texas to Arkansas to Guyana. You’d think I’d be better at saying goodbye by now, but I decided a long time ago that it’s okay to be an emotional wreck in airports. Leaving people you love never gets easier.
Thank you to my host family.
I wouldn’t have survived without you all. You were my safety and my security in Guyana. I owe any and all the success I’ve had here to how you loved me the last two years. You really treated me like family and welcomed me into your lives with wide open arms. You have been the best part of my service.
Thank you to the friends I’ve made in Guyana.
In a time when I was losing my identity to just being a volunteer, you helped me feel like myself again. Your company saved me in so many ways. I’ve never had friendships like this, even in the US, and I’ll continue to keep them close to me.
Thank you to my fellow PCVs.
We’ve had some good times and some really bad, but we made it to the end. I’m thankful to have done my service with and beside you. We’re all off on new adventures in new places and I wish you all the best.
Thank you to Guyana.
You’re beautiful, generous, and an undiscovered treasure in this world. But you are also one tough-ass country and you made me stronger.
Thank you to you.
My friends and family at home who have taken the time to read all my blogs, emails, and messages from Guyana. Your interest and support has been affirming to me that I’ve got a good team of people on my side. You’ve been understanding and compassionate towards my experiences, and I appreciate how much you’ve cared. I don’t take it for granted.
I’ll be back someday, Guyana.