I’ve been back in the states for just over a week now. It’s been a week catching up with family and friends, coordinating events and schedules, and other stuff related to readjustment. As I’ve moved around the city, it’s familiar in a different way. Businesses I used to frequent have moved. Luxury and boutique apartment buildings dot the city’s streets. Electric scooters and electric-assist bikes help to move Washingtonians around the city.
One of the things that I looked forward to most when I was coming back was November Project. For those who don’t know, November Project is a free fitness movement that started in Boston in November of 2011. Tribes in cities all over the world meet every Wednesday morning between 6 and 6:30 am, no matter what. I knew that in a city full of transients and constant change, November Project DC would be there. At the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday morning. The only requirement: just show up. I knew that I’d be greeted by cheery faces, high fives and hugs. I was late getting to the workout on Wednesday morning and it was much colder than SE Asia. But the tribe always makes it worth the early rising.
I was reminded of how out of shape I am. I was also reminded of how encouraging a group of people can be. It’s good to be back. The above photo was taken by Matt at the start of Friday morning’s workout.
Be kind to yourself.
Last week, my cohort (group 14) came together for one last Peace Corps sponsored training. We assembled in the Lubumbo region of eSwatini for our Close of Service (COS) conference. This conference signals the beginning of the end. It’s held about three months before a group is set to leave.
We had our COS conference at a secluded nature reserve with beautiful views and spacious chalets. This was also the last time that we had to take a language proficiency test, which assessed how our language skills have grown throughout our service. We discussed the paperwork and conversations that need to be completed before we leave. We gave three stool samples to ensure that we aren’t leaving with parasitic friends in our respective bowels. We reflected on the work that we’ve done. We began to prepare for the adjustment and reverse culture shock that likely awaits us in America. We discussed how to best represent our service as we seek move on to careers, school or retirement. It was a full week.
While I’ll greatly miss eSwatini and emaswati (pronounced eh-mah-swah-tee), or Swazi people, I am excited for life after Peace Corps. The picture above was taken by PCV Nate during a session with a panel of RPCVs.
Be kind to yourself.
Prior to Peace Corps, I wasn’t well acquainted with organized affinity groups. I was member to various groups focusing on shared interests, but they weren’t organized as affinity groups. Enter Peace Corps. There are affinity groups focusing on different identities and interests. One such affinity group here in Peace Corps Swaziland is known as Embrace. It’s an affinity group organized around the Black American PCV identity.
This weekend, Embrace members gathered for a retreat. There were wonderful opportunities for team building, enhancing self-care practices, and fellowship. The above photo was taken during one of the sessions on self care.
Be kind to yourself.
Because I am posted in a country where I might contract malaria, I have been given an antimalarial medication called, “Mefloquine”. One of the side effects of this medication is lucid dreaming. The following is what I dreamt last night (as best I can remember).
I was in Las Vegas. It was for my Peace Corps staging event. There were no hotels. There were no conference rooms. I don’t remember any Peace Corps staff. We were all in a very large house. It seemed that the house had countless rooms. I only remember a very massive bedroom with a massively impressive bed. There was even a large, intricate wooden headboard and snazzy lighting. Despite ample sleeping space, no one slept due to immense excitement.
We arrived in a city in the country of service. I’m not sure which country it was. It wasn’t Swaziland. I was taken to an apartment building and given keys. Upon entering the apartment, I was very excited and impressed. There was a full kitchen and two bedrooms (or so I thought). The bedrooms were on opposite sides of the apartment. My roommate was a PCV I had met in Madagascar (in real life). I chose a room and started settling in. I was exploring the apartment when I opened what I thought was a bathroom door. It was another bedroom with a closet full of dresses. Apparently there was another roommate who wore a lot of dresses. I never actually met this roommate.
Be kind to yourself.
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This is a group of
almost all most of group 14 from Peace Corps Swaziland. This was the day that we met our training host families and moved in. Things were running on Swazi time, which meant that it was time to capture the perfect selfie.
After our khombi broke down and we walked to the village, we came upon a soccer game/practice. These young boys were fascinated by Nate’s camera. I think Rachael and Meaghan were intrigued as well.
Nevermind Clarin’s face in the background. The foreground features me and my teacher. She’s hard on us, but she’s kind and makes sure that we know what we need to know.
These pictures are from my homestead. The above is a picture from the latrine in the morning. The bottom is a picture of that latrine. This is home.
Sometimes, after you meet the village chief, you stop for a selfie break with a fellow trainee’s host family. So much beauty in this photo.
This probably should have been first. When we first arrived from Johannesburg at the training site in Swaziland, all of the Peace Corps training staff came out to greet us. We were happy, if you can’t tell. Photo credit – Nellie
Nellie captures all the perfect pictures in all of the right moments. We were headed to school/the training site in this one.
That’s all for now. Hopefully, I’m able to share pictures often.