A year ago UPS delivered to me a thick blue envelope. Actually, UPS delivered a white and brown slip saying that I needed to pick up my package at the small warehouse on the other side of town during the only 15 minutes they are open a day. Yet, despite my fondness for the UPS, I retrieved my package. And there was that blue envelope with the words “You are invited.”
Before that day, I had no care or concern for Niger, but now my heart tugs at the word, as if a first love that I deemed the one that got a way. It’s forever imprinted in heart and that experience – the one that started a year ago with that package – will be one that I carry through life.
But it’s time to look forward.
After two and a half months, countless trips to the doctor’s office for more signatures and lots of buttering up to my father to fax the documents, I am finally medically cleared. Alhamdulillah, or simply, thank God.
The next day, I received a phone call from a very nice and sympathetic placement officer. She commended me for still wanting to do Peace Corps after all that I have been through and said she’ll work with me to find my next placement.
As my luck has had it with re-enrollment, I am on hold right now. Congress voted to cut the Peace Corps budget, which in total is equivalent to two military planes, and now the Peace Corps is unsure of what programs will be available in the near future. When Peace Corps know what programs will continue to operate, I will get another call and, insha’allah, an invitation.
Part of my hold is because I have requested to leave after Oct. 8, the day my brother is to be married. If I wanted to leave earlier, I assume I could’ve been invited to Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali or Senegal like other Peace Corps Niger Volunteers. However, if I left this summer, because of Peace Corps rules and training, I wouldn’t be able to come home for the wedding. So, I will wait a few months to go and they are still undecided on what programs will be leaving in the second half of the year. Really, it’s only a few more months and I know I would forever regret not being at my brother’s wedding.
Good news is that my placement officer said, because I am an evacuee, I am top on the list to receive an invitation and I will be leaving shortly after Oct. 8, maybe even the next day.
We also talked about job duties and location. Because of my experience in Niger, I am now qualified for two different sectors, rather than just the one that I was invited for last May. I would like to work with HIV/AIDS awareness, but really, I am open to anything at this point.
I also indicated that I would like to return to French-speaking Africa, but my officer said this is not likely. I am not what they call a world-wide applicant, meaning there is something in my medical history that keeps me from going to certain countries (remember Namibia?) So, with my time-frame and medical exception, French-speaking Africa is not an option. There is English-speaking Africa as well as South America, Asia, the Pacific Island, the Caribbean and Central America. I could go anywhere.
My officer said she’ll have a better idea on the list of programs next week and so I should know sometime in the next month or so he location of my second attempt at Peace Corps.
Before I left for Niger, I had so many dreams about what it would be like. In Niger, I dreamt about returning home after that experience. At home, my dreams took me back. Now, I am off again.
It’s scary to think about leaving again and how the goodbyes will be just as, maybe more so, painful. It will be so different from Niger, but I am ready. I am ready to hop on this path and see where it leads.