One Year Ago Today... My Peace Corps Service Ended

June 10, 2015

Over the years, I've come to terms with the fact that just about anything can bring tears to my eyes. When I'm happy, I cry. When I'm frustrated, I cry. When I'm sad, I cry. When I'm overwhelmed, I cry. You get the idea.

But not the sobbing kind of tears. Just the bambi-tears-welling-up-in-my-eyeballs kind of tears. If you know me at all, you know this to be true. It reminds me of a line of my favorite poem... "you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." And goodness, I sure do love a lot. Today, I'm referring specifically to the love I have for my Peace Corps service and all the remarkable people I met along the way.

Today marks one year since my close of service in the Peace Corps in Botswana. Ironically, I woke up this morning and put on a Zebra soccer jersey I was given as a going away gift. I didn't even realize it was my year mark today until I just looked up the date on my final paperwork.

For the past week, I've just felt it. I couldn't shake the feeling. I really, really, missed Botswana. I missed my friends, my village, my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer. So, it only seems fitting that today snuck up on me and these emotions all come from a constant reality... I miss Botswana every day (some days more than others).

My service in the Peace Corps changed me. challenged me. frustrated me. taught me. humbled me. helped me. guided me. questioned me. motivated me. delighted me. comforted me.

These words don't make sense to anyone. But they evoke every emotion in the book for me. Bambi tears included (ok maybe some sob tears too).

I thought of writing about my Peace Corps experience on many occasions after returning home, and each time, I concluded that words couldn't do any justice. I knew that I could fill pages with stories and people would never understand the sense of calm I experienced when I laid down with my head in my grandmother's lap in the shade of the tree in our yard. No one could feel the joy bursting from my heart when tiny voices called out my name, Boitshepo! No combination of words could relay the satisfaction of knowing my existence made some kind of difference. I felt as though I could never guide another person through my tangled mess of emotions throughout the 26 months of my Peace Corps service.

And so, I have kept a lot of my memories to myself. In a way, I think coming home from the Peace Corps has put me through many stages of grief. It's really difficult to come to terms with the fact that one of the biggest chapters of my life will remain a mystery to so many. I am so grateful for the visitors I had during my service, for they can recall some of my favorite places and people. But in so many ways, my service belongs to me, and me alone.

For that, I am thankful. And for that, I am saddened.

I wish it was easier to share the lessons I learned with others.
But since I cannot force the words to flow....the tears will.
Tears of joy, tears of remembrance, tears of gratitude.

So, until I can find the words to do justice to my time in Botswana,

Motho ke motho ka batho.
I am because you are.

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