Its been one year now and it has been somewhat of a roller coaster. I was reading through all my journal entries the other day and realized how far I have come. I want to post three short journal entries that kind of give you an idea of whats gone on in my head since the start.
March 27th 2011
Today was a pretty awful day I would say. Starting to have some serious doubts about whether or not two years is feasible. You see every morning that I have woken up here has been more or less miserable. It is hot from start to finish and I sit around the whole day doing nothing. This morning was no different, I woke up and took a walk to try and take off the morning edge. Got back around ten hopefully ready to start my day. When I got back the baby was screaming, it was hot, and the goats would just not shut up. Not to mention my dad blabbing away to me as though I were some sort of pro in Mandinka. I could not stand the thought of staying in village for the whole day so I bolted. I took off to Bansang where I was hoping to use the Internet and send an email to my family. I wanted to just complain about things here to them, you know get some weight off my chest. Half hour later I find the cafe to be closed. I was so upset and on the verge of breaking down. I was able to cool down on the way back but my feelings about my service remain the same. I came here to work not sit around and brew tea all day. I left behind a pretty good life in America and I did it for a reason. Chilling for two years was not that reason. I understand how important the cultural exchange is and I have been doing nothing but that since coming here. However it does not take two years to exchange culture. If things don't improve I am going to seriously look at calling it quits, I cant stay painfully unhappy for two years its just not healthy.
July 23rd 2011
Life is improving. Things have been tough the last couple months trying to find purpose and work and though I am still not positive what I am doing here I am at least becoming content and happy on a daily basis. I have a good family and have made some amazing friends. Plus it looks like there might be something to look into with basketball here. I am getting to the point now where two years does not seem so daunting as it has since I began my service. More and more I am having "hey two years will be easy" moments then the ever depressing "two years is going to take forever" I realized something as I was thinking back to my first couple months here. I was taking the wrong approach to my service, all my thoughts were negative focusing on the Why-I-Cant-Do-This and starting every thought with "when my two years are up" as if it were some sort of prison sentence. Positive thoughts have been helping and at this point in my service I am happy I made this choice and would do so again in a heart beat, despite all its difficulties.
January 6th 2012
Well it has been exactly a year since I touched down in the Gambia. Have to admit it feels good, there was a point in my service where I thought for sure I would not make it this far but here I am. I look back on this year and realize how much I have grown and how far I have come. I am forever changed by this experience and the changes are good ones. I have learned so much here. New skills, new cultures, new people, new lifestyles. I know things were rough at first but I am now having the time of my life here. I am well adjusted, confident, and absolutely loving every second on my time here.The relationships I have made stand out more than anything. I have met some of the most remarkable people in my fellow volunteers. In addition and most importantly the relationships I have made with Gambians have been life altering. I wish I could say that I taught them more then they taught me but I would be lying. I came into my service thinking that I would be doing the teaching but that role was quickly reversed. The best part is I am no where close to finished. There is sooo much more I am ready to learn from them, so many conversations yet to be had and so muchwork still to be done. Throughout my service I have posed myself with this scenario. Peace Corps hands you a plane ticket to America and says "If you would like you can go home, your service would be finished, you can keep all the benefits and even call yourself a RPCV or if you want you can finish out your service." For the first time I can say truthfully that I would elect to finish out my service. I am not ready to go home yet.