Friday, May 27, 2011

Well. I should say a bit more about the end of my Peace Corps experience.

As I said before, it was somewhat underwhelming. It seemed totally surreal to think about as it approached because I knew that after the end, I'd be doing the exact same thing. And so it was easy to ignore. But at the same time, as that finish line loomed into view, I was struck with a moment of clarity. I realized that my service as a volunteer had been a series of highs and lows (I'm pretty sure I've made that observation before), and that where I was emotionally at the close of my service would probably have a strong impact on how I viewed my service for the rest of my life.

So I sat down and had a good long talk with myself about what it would take for me to end things on a high note. I looked at the reasons for my good feelings in the past, and the reasons for my low feelings. It wasn't too difficult. I got positive feelings from being involved with projects and activities at school, from spending time in my community, basically by doing the things that I felt like I should be doing as a volunteer. Low feelings came about with frustration about school, from feelings of isolation and dissatisfaction with how I spent my time. Not too shocking, not too complex, and not too difficult to plan accordingly.

I talked to one teacher and we set up a sex education unit I had been kicking around in my head. That ended up being one of the most fulfilling parts of my Peace Corps service. Whoop! I accepted a bunch of requests to do activities at other schools, which, while of questionable value to students learning to speak English, do have value in students getting an opportunity to interact with a foreigner (and have fun doing so). I started going to Mae's school once a week. I started trying to exercise more (figuring that an increased level of fitness would improve my emotional state too).

And it worked. I was able to finish my end of service reports and feel good about (most of) what I had to say.

My new challenge is to find ways to feel personally fulfilled without Peace Corps service. I've made lists of ideas for activities for myself and things to do (learning to play guitar, gardening, helping Pa with English stuff, yadda yadda yadda, and for a few days so far (since I made this decision), it's been going pretty well.

Oh yeah, Gam and I got back last week from 2 weeks in Chiang Mai where we took a Thai massage class. It was pretty cool, and now I have souvenirs for EVERYone (in the form of free massages)! So look forward to it, punk.

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