25 March 2011

Finding Resolution

It’s somewhat cliché to do the end of the year reflection but I feel it’s necessary to look back where you have been in order to figure out where you want to go in the coming year…So where was I and where am I heading?

2010 started with a vow, a vow to make the last year of the decade better then its predecessor and for once I actually kept a New Year’s resolution. The year found me in some unexpected places; the first being the U.S. Congress.

I spent most of 2009 buzzing around as a Congressional intern, temp and on the campaign trail but 2010 bought a promotion. If you were a senior citizen, a child, disable, unemployed or just plain infuriated at the government, I was your it girl. It was an exciting time to be in government. Healthcare was keeping us all on our toes and my phone never stopped ringing. I learned a lot sitting watching the tea partiers protesting outside and helping constituents solve their issues with various federal agencies. The Government is a well oiled machine that runs at an extremely fast pace. I never had two days twice and would never know what would happen before I walked into the office. I learned to believe in our political system and that Congress is more then just cut throat debates between Democrats and Republicans. Many members are hardworking individuals promoting change. (and all Members of Congress have mercilessly dedicated staff; a little shout out….)

My life as a Congressional staffer was short lived but not because I disliked the job (frankly, I loved), only that a Peace Corps application is not now for the weak hearted and my invitation was finally in my hands after 16 months. Congress taught me to be patient and how to be good listener which in the months after leaving I would need more than ever in my new job description.

After leaving Congress, I flailed around the farm for a few weeks in a panic of having to pack up my life into only 80 lbs of luggage. Exactly six months in the office of a member of Congress to the next six months spent in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I left the tea partiers to picket against healthcare to figuring out the best way to ward off dozens of energetic African kids interested in touching my ‘bizarre’ white skin’.

Peace Corps had been a plan of mine for quite sometime. My cousin Erin is a RPCV and after meeting a recruiter my freshman year at USD, I was more than intrigued. I needed PCV on my resume. As mentioned earlier, the application process is not for those with a weak heart or at least with high blood pressure. A total of 16 months if fretted over my potential PC future but Feb 2010 my blue folder of success had came in. Peace Corps Sierra Leone, pack your bags for June 1 and by the way (it said) you are in training Group One.

39 future PCVs arrived in Freetown in early June. The heat and humidity hit me like a ton of bricks but nothing could thwart my excitement. I was finally here, ready to start my service. Transferred to Bo, things moved really quickly. Training started, I had a new family with little brothers who are much smaller than Alex, could speak Krio (small, small) and learning how to be a teacher. By the end of the 2010 I found myself in Moyamba and teaching 100 teenage girls at one of the biggest Girl’s boarding school in the country.

So….What was actually resolved in 2010?
I will continue to struggle with my restless feet and the urge to be a homebody. It’s easy to be content both at home and in a place so completely opposite to my home half way around the world. I love politics even the constant squabbling between the Dems and Repubs. Eating with your hands is liberating. Teenage girls are the same all over the world and survive on the food of gossip and trouble making. Teachers have the hardest job on the planet. Mende is fun but could fling me into an emotional melt down. I glow in the dark. I have re-cultivated my love for journalism. The world may have been made in seven days but it can’t be changed in that same amount of time. And will unexpectedly face the New Year with a new outlook and a patient wait for the unknown.

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