The second month of a job can test if you are really committed to it.
The newness is no longer there, but you are still considered the new kid in a way that is demeaning and annoying. You aren’t sure if your coworkers really like you and you still aren’t sure if you are doing the right thing.
That’s was my second month in village.
November began with a deep homesickness that lingered, if only as a hint, for most of the month. It became apparent, as if it wasn’t before, that I wasn’t going to be home for Christmas and I won’t be home for a long time. This isn’t summer camp anymore; America is now the foreign land.
My work also became more work. I spent a good portion of the month gathering information for a community report that is to be presented at in-service training in January. I let worries of to-dos over come me and envisioned failing and being the worst volunteer. Ever. As usual, once I calmed down and started to put the pieces together, it wasn’t too terrible and I may turn out OK after all.
Once I realigned my attitude, my cheery outlook from October returned. Never once did I question my presence here and it was often confirmed in small ways, such as a shared laugh with my host sister or a rising orange sun during a morning run.
It got better when one of neighbors returned. Sean, who was one of our volunteer training assistants, lives a short taxi ride from me and was the person who did my site development so my villagers all know of him and constantly ask about him. He was medical evacuated a few days after we were sworn in and returned just a couple of weeks ago. Before making his grand reentrance to village, he stopped by mine to catch up. He’s a former sports reporter also so we talked sports (the Giants won the World Series?) but he also offered up tons of encouragement, encouragement that I needed. He also speaks really great Hausa and lives in one of my nearest market villages so I can visit him while getting what I need for the week. In our respective villages, we began to send notes and magazines back and forth. It’s such a treat to answer a knock at the door and find a Hausa child holding a letter or a The New Times Magazine. He’s leaving again for vacation with his girlfriend and then I’ll be at IST, but when February comes, will be great neighborinos.
I also gained a bit of independence, gathering water for myself and politely telling my family that I do indeed know how to and can cook for myself. They are often surprised at my capabilities, but it’s to be expected from the girl who often doesn’t say much and wears ridiculous clothing.
Several times during the month I would be sitting with a group of women or watching 14-year-olds learn how to sing “Little Indians” and wonder how my life brought me to this point. Then I realize that everything I’ve done has led me to Africa and here I am living the life I never thought I could.
At the end of the month, I was back into a strong state of confidence and happy on my dream-chasing route. Even once I got sick, I was still happy.
By the third month of working for ISJ, I knew I wasn’t committed. By the third month at the Foundation, I was blessed to have landed such a great gig. We’ll see what month three brings. I have I feeling I might fall.