I was blinded by the lights and all the pretty, shiny things. The truth is I came here to escape from myself, my life. It’s not that my life was some sort of train wreck. Quite the opposite, really. But wanting to be everything to everybody else prohibits you from being the person you need to be for yourself.
My COS (Close of Service) date from the Peace Corps is on November 15, 2010. I left home for this journey on September 27, 2008, and I cannot believe that my time is up. My friend Sam asked me the other day what I felt my biggest contribution was during my service. You often think about these things. On those days that the sun is beating down on you, when you can’t sleep because of the impossible heat, when your water is out for days, when homesickness is as painful as a breakup, when you feel that the people you work with aren’t listening to a word you’re saying…it’s on those days that we all ask ourselves, “Why am I here?” In my trimester reports, the numbers are all there. How many men, women, and children were taught? What activities were done? What did they learn? So on and so forth. But as I thought about it, those numbers were just that: statistics. I told Sam I felt that my biggest accomplishments, by far, were the relationships I have built with the people that I’ve met here in Ghana.
There are no words to express the amount of gratitude I have for this experience. I feel enormously blessed in so many ways. We go through all these experiences in life and we don’t fully understand the affect that they have on us until much later. The biggest lesson I can say that I’ve learned is that everything matters. This small developing country in Africa that is seemingly the antithesis of the U.S., I have discovered, is actually quite similar. There is a direct correlation between everything that is happening here right now and what is going on at home. The economy, race relations, gender roles, business, fashion…it’s all interrelated. I am much more conscious of my experiences. This has truly been humbling.
I aspired to change the world. I succeeded in at least changing my world.