Today I received official notice that my COS (close of service) date has been confirmed. I had to get special approval since I’m leaving just a tad early. Why am I leaving early? It really comes down to the site change. I had originally planned to stick it out until the very end, building schools and organizing women until almost November, and then enjoy the holidays with family and head back to school next January. But the move changed that.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with my new site. It’s tranquilo and the people are incredibly nice to me. It’s just not Santa Cruz. And it’s that I’m not doing anything substantive. My counterpart is still telling me we’ll sit down to hammer out details on what I should be doing “next week” and, this is just a hunch, but I feel “next week” may never come. Two months, four months… it will make no difference on the impact I have here. So I’m bowing out early. Just in time to go back to school.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “what comes next”. What going back to school will be like and what happens after. I’m going to have to leave behind this slower pace of life, readjust to things starting on time. Actually get down to business on that Degree Project, start looking for a job. Get back to “real life”.
That sounds silly, I know it does. There is nothing “fake” about this experience. In fact, some parts are about as real as it gets (like a gun in your face, for instance) but I suppose what I mean is simply that Peace Corps really is unlike any other experience I’ve ever had and likely ever will. It’s two years transplanted somewhere completely new and extraordinary. It’s full immersion. It’s more time by yourself than you even know what to do with. It’s the chance to learn and grow and adapt like you never thought possible. It’s a chance to give but also gain. It’s two years full of challenges none of my friends back home faced and lessons that couldn’t be learned any other way. And that uniqueness make the whole thing seem almost unreal. Like a two year dream. A dream in which I talked about poop a lot.
But it’s almost time to wake up. My close of service medical exams need to be scheduled, I signed up for fall classes a few weeks ago and I even officially started my big girl job search by taking the Foreign Service Officer Test yesterday. I’ve got 75 days to eat as many mangoes and tortillas humanly possible and savor the bounty of leisure time Peace Corps service affords. Can it really almost be time to say goodbye?