Now, it hasn't always been easy. There have been days when merely opening the curtains to greet the day has seemed like the hardest thing to do. But there have also been life-changing moments - times when I was completely awe-struck (watching a herd of giraffe ascend the watering hole), bewildered (by "lack of logic"), out of my element (as I struggled to communicate or make sense of something), proud (of the children and staff I worked with), and when I overcame things beyond my wildest imagination.
They say that Peace Corps service is "the hardest job you'll ever love". In looking back over this past year, I can say whole-heartedly that it is true. Peace Corps really is hard and it pushes you to your highest highs and your lowest lows. This job requires a whole new level of determination, grit, perseverance, tenacity, humor, flexibility, and faith in yourself. This is especially true when your projects fail and your (only) friends are deciding to go home early. But, if you are able to stick it out and make the most of each day and each success and each smile from a village kid, then the rewards can be great. If you make the most of it, the only limits are those to your imagination and what you have the guts to try and do (while, of course, feeling watched like a zoo animal by your communities, which seems ironic since we live amongst the animals we consider "zoo animals" in America).
What I am saying is this: this first year of service has been everything and nothing that I expected. I count this as a blessing because it has been so much more than I could have imagined. Despite the hard times, I have really loved this experience and am so happy here. Botswana feels like home now and my Bots 10 group like family. I am so grateful to be at this point now. And I can hardly believe that it has been a year already... just doesn't seem possible.
I want to leave you with this song from my all-time favorite band, Counting Crows, because it sums up a lot of what I am feeling right now. And, while I know this song is entitled "A Long December" (and I do realize that it's March right now), I think the sentiments are congruent with mine as we approach this one year mark. This is the end of our first year and the beginning of the final year for my group of Peace Corps Volunteers. It's time for us "to hold on to these moments as they pass" and really cherish all the greatness that this experience has to offer. Because, lets face it, the days really do go by so fast...