I was reading through the journal I’ve kept (not very periodically) to record my experience in Mali. I came to my first entry and wanted to share it here. It seems to speak for how I am feeling in the midst of my last week.
“It is the night before we leave for our sites. I am sitting under the hanger looking at the empty chairs around me, the hanger where our first PCT meetings took place. It’s always pleasantly surreal to go back to this familiar place that was so unfamiliar in the beginning.
There is a map of Mali painted on the front wall of the hanger. Green, yellow and red the color
of Mali’s flag. The yellow part has a map of Mali pained on it. I remember the first night we arrived to Tubani So (our training center) and looking at the map—the regional capitals painted on and noticing how huge Mali really is. Now that map is full of post-its with each volunteer’s name and their site. Scattered across the whole country just like we will be and piled together side by side. I look at everyone’s name and it makes me think about what the next couple of years are going to be like for us. Names and sites on the wall-what are our lives going to look like?
I am getting that calm feeling I always get at transitional moments such as this. Really though, I think there is a fearful anticipation all of us are having tonight. It’s just so hard to expect too much—just so unrealistic. I am preparing myself for the reality that this is going to be one of the hardest parts of my life. I know I am going to feel inadequate and frustrated and then at moments feel so empowered by what is in front of me. What I want is to be happy and to have real people in my life that I can work with and make a life with—that’s the core. And just thinking, this is it, this is going to be your life what are you going to do with it? Through all of training and home stay, I don’t think I can really say that I am ready. I want to be ready but I am scared. I sort of want to run back in time. I want to know that I am going to be okay.”
Two years later… I think I’m okay.