Goodbye, 2011

If my life were ever to be drawn into a map, there would be ups, downs and turns. One of the sharpest would represent 2011.

The year began in an empty bar in Zinder, Niger, with other Americans dancing and being thankful for that exact spot in life. This year, it will likely end at a friend’s rondaval with American movies and left over Christmas wine near Maseru, Lesotho. My journey from north west Africa to the south east corner has resulted in one of the most trying, adventure-filled year of my life.

The evacuation, Egypt, re-enrolling, the flood, training and re-entry to volunteerhood were all crammed into this last set of 12 months. Most of the year was full of guesses, second chances and having faith. I once called it The Year of Persistence, and it lived up to its name.

At times, I wished this year would drain out fast and I could start fresh. But it trucked on and so I did. I grew, I understood and I learned. Looking back at the year that was, those trials and tribulations were most certainly worth it. In one of the hardest years of my life, it was also one of the most exciting, even good.

On the plane from Morocco to Egypt, I heard a song that seemed to be written for me so I could absorb it at that exact moment. “I am going to make it through this year,” The Mountain Goats sang into my ears, “even if it kills me.” That was my anthem for the year. And, 2011 didn’t kill me. I made it through.

In a post I wrote this time last year from the Zinder hostel , I said, “My concentration for now is on a small village in West Africa and the volunteer it deserves. I can still improve, still learn.” Despite all that has changed in my world, the phrase is my same goal for the next year, except that that small village is now in Lesotho. I will be the volunteer it deserves. I can still improve, still learn.

2011, you’ve given more than I could ask for but I am ready to be anew. With a stronger heart, I welcome 2012.

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