Friday, September 16, 2011

Ruth and the One Year Milestone.

Typical, right? Sick, yet I can't sleep, when that's all I want and need to do. So here I am, at 3 am on a Thursday night/Friday morning, musing, when I should be sleeping. What's a girl to do but write? 

Today was the anniversary of being in Morocco for one full year. The past couple of weeks I've had lots of days thinking, one year ago today, I was packing my apartment, or leaving my job, or saying goodbye to friends, family and San Francisco. And a year ago today (well, yesterday now) I landed in Casablanca, with people I'd known for little more than 48 hours, tired, a bit dirty, and so excited for what was to come. And my group and I, we've made it through training, two host families, (sometimes) violent illnesses, frustrations and happy realizations of work, celebrations of small milestones like making ourselves understood in our new language, other PCVs comings and goings, and we're still going. With longer hair, a bit of a tan, a few bruises, and the ability to squat for hours thanks to those turkish toilets. 

And of course, there's nothing better than a milestone, of any size, to make one reflect on events. It's surreal to observe and realize the vast changes that can happen in one little year. I think the biggest realization that has come to me in these past couple of weeks of reflection is that while of course I am here to lend my time, skills and anything else I can to the women that I work with and my community, I also need to work out what I need to do in order to look back on these two years with a sense of accomplishment outside of that - for myself. And I don't know what that is yet, but ideas are forming. A friend asked me before I left whether I looked at Peace Corps as a time for personal reflection. Absolutely. 

As I look back, there's a certain part of me that is still sad about leaving, because I know that all the people I said goodbye to are leading their lives, with all of those vast changes that a year can bring, and I'm a little bit less a part of it - not through lack of trying on either side - but through nothing other than sheer distance, time differences and a sometimes dodgy Skype connection. But, then I also realize that this works both ways - there are so few people that can ever really understand what my experience here is about for me, or what I have become accustomed to - good or bad - on a daily basis in my little Moroccan town. And of course, I'm incredibly lucky to be able to participate in this experience - I'm going to bring back with me skills I never knew I had (like making tortillas and aforementioned squatting), have seen a side of Morocco that few tourists get the opportunity to see, and have formed friendships that will last my lifetime. Plus, I've now added camel trekking to my list of activities - can't do that in San Francisco. 

So to another 14 months. With all the couscous, travel, amoebic infections, reflection, work, and bug killing that it will undoubtedly bring. I can't imagine that the second half of this experience won't fly by as the first year has done. Onwards!


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