Back when I was in training, we had a session where we learned about the “life cycle of a peace corps volunteer.” The trainers told us that volunteers go through several distinct stages throughout service. The first six months PCVs are usually at a low emotionally, as they are struggling with language and integration into the community. Afterwards, there is a swing upward. You’re better able to express yourself and more comfortable with the culture. You start finding your place in your community.
And then there’s what they call the “one-year slump.” And so it seems to be, for me. I remember during training, I took this whole life cycle thing with a grain of salt. How could you generalize about everyone’s experience? I wondered. But, sure enough, I find myself experiencing the foretold one year slump.
It probably doesn’t help that my one year mark happens to be at the hottest time of the year, but I have found myself day dreaming about home more often than usual. Reliable electricity, running water, refrigerators full of food and cold drinks, the ability to blend into a crowd… These are distant memories to me. Let alone air conditioning (which is just too painful to even think about). I reflect nostalgically on my childhood hot summer days in Chicago when my parents would walk us across the street to get slurpees at the 7-11. Even the humid Chicago summer doesn’t come close to the heat I’m experiencing here. And a slurpee is thousands of miles away.
But, c’est la vie. As I’ve mentioned, time here moves quickly, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be out of the one-year slump soon and on to the next emotional ascent before the final turmoil that comes with the end of service. I have a vacation to Turkey and Greece planned for next month with one of my best friends here, so that should assuage some of my blues. It will be my first step outside of Senegal since I’ve gotten here, and a welcome change of scenery (and temperature).
In the meantime, I will just keep on keeping on. And I will take this opportunity to share a list of appropriate care package items, in case anyone was wondering:
savory snacks (i.e., crackers, pretzels, etc.)
emergen-c, or other drink mixes
dr. bronners bar soap (or other variety)
I think that’s a good start. You can find my address in the “about” section, if you’re so inclined.
Finally I’d like to thank my mother, in her infinite wisdom, for sending me a 2015 calendar with inspirational quotes. The quote for April is helpful:
trust the process
Life is a journey, and no one said it was going to be easy. Thank you all for the support you show me by reading my tales. It means a lot. I am trusting the process, and I can only hope it will lead me somewhere I want to be.