Sunday, December 29, 2013

The American Return

I've been wanting to sit down for awhile and put into words some of my return.  As of tomorrow, I will start my 10th day back in America.  In a lot of ways, it feels like I never left, but then when I look around me and witness all of the changes that have taken place, it is very apparent that I was gone for a LONG time.  Many of you may know this, but Texas is a booming state.  For the most part, the economy is still in decent/good shape.  With that said, Houston and Sugar Land are constantly continuing to develop.  I have returned home to new roads, new stores, new apartment complexes, etc.  It is such a drastic change that at one point I looked at my mom and asked, "where are we?!"  She was either entertained or a little concerned with my lack of directional skills.

Being back home has been great so far, but I won't sugarcoat this for y'all (why start now?), it is difficult.  When I'm at the house with my family I am at ease.  However, being with my blood family reminds me of the Namibian family (brothers/sister, learners, etc) that I left behind.  On most days I have this feeling that something is missing.  That I'm not totally complete at this moment.  I have the four most important people sitting next to me, but other important people are miles and miles away.  I can only attribute that feeling to my Namibian life that I left behind.

As for the difficulties that I have faced so far... HOLIDAY SEASON MADNESS!  The difficulties definitely started the minute I said goodbye to all of the other volunteers that I flew home with.  For starters, JFK is a madhouse during the Christmas season.  Coming from the village, heck even from Cape Town, I was NOT ready for that.  People were everywhere.  They were in a hurry.  They didn't want me to greet them and make small talk.  They were REALLY fancy.  I felt small, scared, and a little unsure about what was ahead.  Getting to Texas got some of that edge off, but there have been moments that I've questioned things happening around me.

During orientation, our Field Director shared a story about his first return back to the States.  He had visited the grocery store and was so overwhelmed with the orange juice selection that he walked right out.  I've definitely had similar moments, but for the most part I've just been following mom around like a lost, small child.  One day I ventured out with Amanda and Mark though, which is when I had my first overwhelming can't function moment.  We decided to go to Chick fil A.  Since leaving, Chick fil A has added the caloric information for all of their food.  When we entered the store, I was so taken back by this.  On top of that, I couldn't find what I needed.  As I approached the counter (Amanda and Mark had already ordered), I was baffled and spitting words randomly at everyone because I didn't know where my option was and on top of that, I had to order an extra drink for my mom.  To say I was a hot mess would be an understatement.  The boy behind the counter seemed concerned with my behavior.  Amanda had a "rub some dirt on it" kind of attitude happening.  Mom laughed her butt off when I told her the story later.

All in all, being home is going great!  I'm excited for all of the things ahead of me.  I'm thankful for such a rewarding year and for a family that allowed me to peace out for a year.

Many have asked about what is to come next... My response?  I wish I knew!  As of right now, I'm planning to take off at least a month to readjust, do some job searching, work on the resume, and acclimate back to American life.  If any of you blog readers out there know of any Communications positions that may be available, throw them my way.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's December...

It’s officially December first, the first day of my last week in Odibo, and the first day of my last month in Namibia.  Ironically, the weather is a great representation of my current mood.  Since waking up, it has been raining off and on as the sun tries to peek through the dreary, overcast sky.  The sun sneaks a peek every so often, but quickly hides itself again for the raindrops to breakthrough.  In many ways, this is a perfect description of the emotions I am feeling about leaving.  In a matter of minutes, I can go from excited, to nervous, to upset, to anxious, to in tears.  There will be a glimpse of the joy of leaving, but in seconds, just like the rain, the sadness of saying goodbye returns.

For the most part, my bags are packed and ready to go.  Yes, I am on top of things, but that is mainly because I stayed in the village this last weekend.  Even with a lot of events taking place on Friday and Saturday, I was able to finalize these events, because let’s face it, there’s a lot you can get done in 48 hours when you are staying home.  Although I’m upset that I missed one last weekend with the other volunteers, I will see many of them one more time and I am glad that I took the time to stay home with the family. 

This weekend was a perfect end to my village life in Namibia.  On Friday, after finishing up at work, I took the boys into town to run a couple errands.  We also got photos printed, and since I knew they would want to do teenage boy things and not pal around with Ms. Mac, I left them at KFC with a chicken lunch and taxi fare to get home.  After taking care of my last minute needs, I walked to the market to catch a ride back to the village.  As much as the market has caused problems for me throughout these months, I secretly love it there.  The hustle and bustle, the boisterous laughs, the barbershops with men getting their hair done, the fat cakes and kapana waiting to be bought.  It is a vibrant, colorful part of Oshikango that screams life.  It is a place where the people are silently declaring that they are using all that they know in order to fight for their place in society.  After returning from town, I found my sweet little boy (let’s call him Kay because his name is too difficult) and Vistorina and headed to a shop to buy cool drinks and sweets.  When we got back, I hung out with Kay and then did some relaxing and socializing for the rest of the night.

On Saturday, I woke with determination to have a day filled with Namibian activities.  Around 9, some learners came over to greet me.  They had a meeting at the school and were waiting for the teacher to arrive.  A couple hours later, the same students and a couple others returned to watch Pitch Perfect and hangout with Ms. Mac for one last Saturday.  We had a movie, sweets, cool drinks, and dancing.  My heart was full watching these girls open up, laugh throughout the movie, and get excited about songs they liked.  Nathanael and Henry did some DJing for them, which got those Namibian dance moves I love so much to come out in full force.  Later in the afternoon, I headed to town to meet up with another American that moved to Namibia a couple weeks ago.  Finding out about him is a crazy side story that I may quickly write down at some point this week.  The night ended with my sweet Kay sharing dinner with me and playing with a random tire outside the house.  There were also many bugs, but what else is new.  Like many nights these past couple weeks though, the power went out due to the rain and I enjoyed another sweaty sleep. 

For this week, I am preparing myself to be emotional, but also a little distant.  I am like my mother in that sense.  I want to feel all of the ups and downs deeply, but I know myself and know that in some ways I should pull away a little for my own sake.  Then on Friday, a coworker will drive me to Eenhana in order to meet Emily and wait for the ministry transport that awaits us on Saturday.

Stop. Breathe.

I can’t believe this year is actually coming to an end.  If I am honest with all of you, I am very scared to come home.  I’m scared to fit back into society and that I may become hostile to some of the things we do as Americans.  I’m scared that no other job will be nearly as rewarding as this year I spent being 23.