10 months left in Peace Corps

My cohort and I—down from 19 at the start, to 14—have officially made it over half way through our Peace Corps services. It was marked by our mid-service conference that all groups attend at this point in their service. We opened up with the worst possible exercise possible in my mind: write on a large piece of paper your successes so far, your biggest challenges, and what you look forward to most in the next year. I enjoy seeing the other folks in my group, but I always seem to leave them with a sense that I’m not as useful as they are in their communities. Some are doing GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) and BRO (Boys Respecting Others) Camps, working in local schools teaching dance, lifeskills, business skills and sports, working with HIV support groups, starting sewing groups and libraries, and even constructing an entire sports facility with multipurpose courts. This is excluding the other awesome 80+ PCVs doing their projects here in Lesotho too. I serve alongside people that are intelligent, motivated, creative, and any-other-adjective-to-describe-what-everyone-wants-to-be. This was reiterated with figures and graphs showing all that we had done as a group. I felt I didn’t many of those numbers and couldn’t help but look around the room and feel worthless. I was telling Hannah’s mom this a few days after the conference ended and she went on soliloquy about all that I’ve done. I had forgotten a lot of these things or didn’t even recognize them as a success per say, but when she was saying all this really cool stuff back to me I started to realize that I’ve had an awesome time. Some of these things could possibly make for a good book someday. I have…

  • successfully fought bed bugs three times
  • gone through an evacuation to South Africa during political unrest
  • given a speech in Sesotho at our Swearing In ceremony on live television, and many more since then
  • helped nurture a grassroots organization, Youth 2 Youth 4 Youth (Y3), where we operate in 3 villages training youth leaders and engaging youth
  • introduced peanut farming on a small scale and its benefits against malnutrition (nearly 50% stunted due to malnutrition in Lesotho)
  • held three spelling bees and will take one student to the capitol for a National Spelling Bee in November
  • become a pet owner. A cute and energetic cat named Mushu
  • participated in a BRO Camp teaching young boys how to avoid HIV risk factors
  • taught microbiology and chemistry to the first-years at the nursing college and continue to tutor
  • helped start an Employee Wellness Program at the hospital
  • gained friends from South Africa, Zambia, DRC, Tanzania, Australia, UK, Norway, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Uganda, Madagascar, and Mexico
  • successfully grown maize, tomatoes, green peppers, spinach, onion and beans (giving a go at potatoes and cucumber now)
  • run a 10k race with my host family on Christmas (integration, integration, integration!)
  • learned to play the guitar (well, sort of. I’m learning)
  • turned on many people from so many countries to Kevin Hart (I feel like I should get paid for this)
  • joined my village soccer team (I’m a striker. Haven’t quite figured out why yet, but at least I’m having fun while I embarrass myself.)
  • gotten better after having an amoeba.
  • backpacked in Kruger National Park.
  • traveled all over South Africa
  • learned another language.
  • become a big brother to three siblings. One day my little sister came home from school and showed me her good test scores and said, “I had to show my big brother.” Dawww!
  • lived in another country for a year and a half now

The question, ‘What do you look forward to most in the next year’ put a spot light on something that hasn’t even crossed my mind up until that point: I only have ten months left until I’ll be going back home, so I need to start thinking about what I’m going to do next, now! I’ve thought about this a lot but when our country director brought it up it seemed to make it more real. I’ve learned a lot about agriculture and want to further my studies in Public Health focusing on food security to address malnutrition. I feel passionate about this and see my future down this path. I want to remain in the moment as much as possible in my remaining time here, but I will start figuring out my graduate school plans. If all goes according to the very loose schedule I have in my mind, I will hopefully do a few more successful things in Lesotho, travel for a bit after my COS (completion of service) in July 2016, move to Texas where Hannah is attending graduate school, eat a ton of burgers and milkshakes, buy a car, start graduate school the following year and live happily ever after. Here’s to a ten months full of adventures and building relationships!

-Jody

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3 thoughts on “10 months left in Peace Corps

  1. Hi Jody. Congrats and making it more than half way through service – it really is an accomplishment! My name is Michelle, and I was one of the PC Blog It Home contest winners a couple years ago. I’d like to invite you to a six-week Blog Challenge I’m hosting to help PCVs “level up” their Third Goal blogs in the New Year. This is “phase one” for an online project I’m working on with the aim of helping bloggers to promote cross-cultural understanding. I’d be honored if you would visit my new site: http://BloggingAbroad.org, watch the video (or read the transcript if loading videos is a challenge), and sign up to join the adventure in blogging. Take care and happy blogging! Michelle

      • Hi Jody. You’re welcome to sign up now and join in the last half of the Blog Challenge. Otherwise, yes, I will likely do another Challenge in the future- perhaps an “automated” series so people can start whenever they’re ready.

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