September 14, 2010
It’s Tuesday, the fourth to last day of pre-service training. Like most core days when we are at our training site, I’ve decided to skip out on a volleyball game or movie/television time to write a bit – these are the only days I can transcribe entries from my journal or spill things out on a helpless Word document. With a specific topic in mind, I search through my stored email for one from a friend for reference.
In my other life, I managed four emails accounts online, on my computer and on my phone and they often grew to excessive numbers, such as 1,000 unread messages. Before I left, I emptied them to the bare essentials and realized I deleted the one I was looking. In fact, the only ones I kept were ones with special notes from friends and family and those that concerned my new life.
I opened one and the first line read “Congratulations Heather and welcome to the Peace Corps! Your place in the Niger program has now been confirmed.” It was the response to the email I sent to accept my invitation to Peace Corps Niger dated May 13, 2010.
Tears came to my eyes.
A week from tomorrow, in traditional Nigerien dress and with my new 32-person family, I will officially become a volunteer for the United States Peace Corps Niger. A dream will be fulfilled, an accomplishment of patience and hard work, and I will strike a line through an item on my life list of to dos.
Nearly 27 months – the length of a Peace Corps service – has lapsed from the June 2008 day I submitted my application till my September 23, 2010, swear-in. All Peace Corps related material will tell you the application process can be daunting and will require patience and perseverance, which is quite true.
There was the major tough points: being told I don’t have enough experience to be a volunteer; being required to have counseling to prove I was mentally sound for the Peace Corps, pushing my application process back a month; and struggling with language and failing my LPI. In between those mountains were little foothills of frustration that required deep breaths and a slice of optimism.
It wasn’t easy, and it will probably only get tougher from here, but I wouldn’t change anything about the last two years. I am here. I am going to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, a sentence I can’t even type without tearing up. The job I’ve always wanted, claimed to be “the toughest you’ll ever love”, will be mine.
I promise to Peace Corps, Niger, the United States, my villagers, my fellow volunteers, former volunteers, my friends, my family and myself to give all of me to this post. Every day.
The day this is published, I will be an officiall Peace Corps Volunteer for Niger. My dream is here.