During both sets of training, in Niger and Lesotho, current volunteers are intertwined into activities and are great sounding boards for fears and obscure questions. They also tend to offer great advice.
One of the best nuggets of wisdom I received came from a volunteer in Niger: get out of the house. He said that when you are lonely or this experience is too much to handle, get out of the house. Your perspective will change.
The other day, I woke up in a funk. In general, I am pretty happy here and know that my life in Lesotho is where I should be, but there are times that I stop and think, “What the heck am I doing here?” When that is your first thought in the morning, those emotions will grown into a raging monster throughout the day.
I tried to work it out by napping, cooking and reading. However, inside my rondaval walls, the dark breeds self-doubt and by 4 p.m. I was downright depressed. I knew that there was only one cure, yet like cough medicine, you have to work up a great deal of courage to put the foul stuff to your lips. Once I finally ran out of chores or other things I told myself “must be done before I went out,” I opened the door and moved my foot across the threshold.
I roamed the village, greeting anyone and everyone. Some extended the conversation past hello, but others smiled and returned to work. I met a few young girls and they walked with me for part of my journey. We giggled and shared broken phrases of Sesotho and English. I wandered into shops and stopped to speak to a group of my future students who promised an exchange of Sesotho lessons for English instruction.
About an hour later, I returned home with a redder neck from the bright sun. Although I practically had to argue myself in to it, I knew that going outside, being with my village, would help distill my funky mood. It could’ve been the fresh air or the human interaction, but I think what ultimately lifted my spirits was the gracious greetings and the feeling that maybe I do belong in this community. Maybe I am one of them.