"Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed—doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps—who works in a foreign land—will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace."

-President John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I have some news

I have some news. But first let me say that my dad and sister made the trek to Ghana and the further trek up to my village. It was a mostly successful and semi-healthy trip for all of us. It was an unbelievable feeling having them in my village, and my village even had a huge cultural dance to welcome them when they arrived at my place. There were at least 300 villagers there, a huge set of speakers, and a dance troupe wearing outfits of 50 kids and adults. The elders (chief’s right hand men) were present and gave my dad the typical dress that they wear, a big knitted smock and a hat. He was instantly taken in. As for Kate, she probably heard the words “You will not leave Ghana, you will stay and marry me” about a hundred times. The girls and women liked her, but the boys and men LOVED her. Glad she made it out without a bunch of husbands. We spent some fun time in the classroom and at my school, but also traveled to the big national park game reserve a few hours away. We saw some elephants, monkeys, deer, antelope, and pumbas (from the lion king).

Let me tell a quick funny story before I get to the big news. In our motel at the national park (there’s only one small place to stay), there were at least ten baboons that hang out. Over the years, they’ve enjoyed human food more and more so apparently they don’t go far out into the park. One morning when dad, Kate and I were in our room about to leave for breakfast, we were watching some of the baboons outside our door. They were literally ten feet away hanging out. A few mothers were carrying babies as well. I had the door open and was taking a few pictures. I turned around and stepped away from the door, and before I knew it a mother came running in the room with her baby hanging on to her belly! She grabbed Kate’s purse by the door and after realizing there was no food in it she put it down and came further into the room. On the desk was a Tupperware container, closed, and holding a few Clif bars. The baboon went straight for it, somehow knowing that whatever was inside was food. At this point another baboon had also come in, and the three of us were trying to yell “No! Get out” but the baboons didn’t care. This was all happening fast, the whole thing only lasted about 30 seconds. The mother baboon grabbed the Tupperware of food and all three baboons ran out, and the fourth baboon – I mean Dad – ran out after them! He wanted those Clif bars! It was to no avail, those monkeys were climbing up the trees and fighting over the Clif bars in no time at all. It was scary and funny all at the same time. Those things are so smart for knowing exactly where our food was out of all the other stuff scattered in the room.

Now onto my news. Let me say that I appreciate all the support from everyone, and for taking interest in reading this blog to see what life is like for sub-saharan Africans. After a long, fulfilling year, I’ve made the difficult decision to cut my 27-month contract short at almost 14 months. I’ve learned a lot and gained a lot. I can only hope that I gave half as much as I gained from living in Ghana. Peace Corps is a great organization, and I will highly recommend it to people in the future, but trying to complete two years in this situation while being in a long-distance relationship is pretty darn hard. After a year of work, it’s hard for me to rationalize a second year and I feel like it is time to move forward. My service has put me on the path that I want to be on, and I’m excited to be on my way and to also be with Menucha. It was difficult telling my school, my village, my Peace Corps friends and superiors, but that is now all finished. My school gave me a friendly farewell and they understand where I’m coming from. They presented me with a smock and we had a photographer there to take pictures of all of us on my last day. I was told by the elders that around December, when they choose a new chief, they were planning to name me as an honorable chief as well. Of course I wished I could make it for that, but now is the time for me to go. The school year just finished and some other things also lined up.

I’m coming out of this service as a new person. It hasn’t been easy, but that’s the point.

America (and then who knows where), here I come.

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