Roller Coaster

I do not like roller coasters.

Heights and I do not get along well and I detest anything that involves moving downhill, i.e. skiing, sledding and even descending while biking and hiking.

But lately, I find myself on a never-ending roller coaster, with high highs and low lows.  A Peace Corps Niger friend, Judy, recently discussed the idea of the Peace Corps roller coaster on her blog and it is something that has been on my mind a lot lately.

The roller coaster theory is presented to us in training as a roadmap for our emotions for the next tow years. At some points, you’ll be very confident in your work and excited to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. At other times, you’ll doubt your ability to make a difference and you decision to come here.

One of the prime up-and-down times is the first three months. You come off of training, emphatic to have the language and cultural lessons over and actually begin working. Eventually, the newness and excitement wears off and you suddenly realize how lonely this experience is, how you can’t express or even be yourself. But, like any roller coaster, it will pick back up again and bring you to a different high.

My first few months in village have been filled with a swirl of happy-sad. Some mornings, I wake up feeling energetic and optimistic about my role in the village. Other days, I am full of doubt and indecision.

The lows can be hard to get through. Often, I want to lock myself in my house and eat as much American-sent chocolate as I can manage to stuff in my mouth. Yet, what always gets me through is knowing the next high is coming. If I hold on until the next day, or even the next hour, sweet reassurance will come.

And, without fail, it does. Like any trial or tribulation in life, the hard is make what the good good. The low points make the high points so very worth it, and when I look back at these two years later on, the highs and lows will both be highs.

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4 thoughts on “Roller Coaster

  1. Thanks for sharing. We’re heading off March 13 but it feels like the roller-coaster already started. Great perspective to keep in mind that the lows will one day be highs, if only because they make us stronger.

  2. I served as a volunteer in Niger from 1988 to 1991. It was the most incredible experience of my life–it is still hard to describe the feelings. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows..but in some ways I have never returned. Life is very real and gritty in Africa. Time slows down there. It taught me that it is the small moments in life that must be cherished–because life is very fleeting and precarious. Enjoy each and every moment and realize that it is about making a small difference in each and every person you have an interaction with. I can remember walking from one bush village to the next and being surrounded by children–all wanting know who this stranger was who had come to visit them. Be sure to look into the night sky and the thousands of stars and hearing the heartbeat of the village–the donkeys and crying babies, childrens’ laughter and the rustle of the wind through the trees or the hustle and bustle of a market day. These moments are the ones to cherish. Take Care.

    • John, thanks for the comment and reading. I miss Niger every day and remember those beautiful moments of watching the stars and the children play in the street. I have them here in Lesotho too. Even though my service is now Lesotho, a part of my heart will always be in Niger.

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