After more than two years, in two weeks I’m going back home, but in many ways I am starting over, leaving my home. My life back in the U.S. is such an extreme contrast to my life here, it’s difficult to imagine them blending at all, being able to retain any aspect of my life here. I’m leaving my thatched hut that has been my home for the past two years, leaving my host family, friends and neighbours, my community, to jump back into a world that they can’t even imagine. Where KFC is no longer the finest dining option and every meal (actually no meal) includes papa. Rationing water, carrying buckets from the river will no longer effect my every decision regarding washing, cooking and drinking. Communication will no longer be a daily struggle, but neither will there be the same rewards of connecting with someone. Farm animals will no longer be a topic in most of my conversations. And gone will be the children’s voices that I have gotten to know so well, calling my name. And no longer will everyone I pass greet me, asking me where I am going and where I am from. I will go back to anonymity. Back to a place where there is no real community. I’m very sad, and yet excited. To see my family and friends that I grew up with again after so long away. To eat the food I’ve been craving but denied for the past two years.
But it’s odd to think of me as being back in the U.S. I’ve changed, been stretched and shaped to fit this new culture and way of life, my new home. And the changed me probably won’t fit easily back into my old life. But the U.S. is home and no matter how much I adapt or integrate, it will always be where I come from, haeso ke kae.
I’ve heard that when a Peace Corps volunteer goes back, it almost feels like you’ve never left. The past two years seem to disappear, so far removed and so far away, almost like it never happened at all. Except that you no longer fit in. You see a side of things that is invisible to others, that keeps you apart from your friends and family, who love you but won’t want to hear about Lesotho in every conversation. All of this makes me pretty nervous about my return. And thinking of saying goodbye to my host family, who have been such an integral part of my daily life for the past two years, gets me all choked up. And without any resources there isn’t much chance of them being able to keep in touch at all. This really is goodbye.
But mostly I’m excited, to once again be on the move and start a new chapter of my life.
The contents of this article are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the American Peace Corps.