In the volunteer life there are no lukewarm days. There are only really days – really bad, really good.
Yesterday was a really good day.
They day started with doubt. I must have had a dream or read something before bed that triggered this feeling of coming up short. Was I really doing everything I could for my village? Is there more I should be doing? I hate these pestering thoughts that drive my mind through a “You should be better” storm. They came during the reporting life and I really didn’t want them to ruin this one as well. All I could do was quiet them and go about my day.
With no classes until after the 10:40 tea break I spent my morning working on a project for the Peace Corps office while students read in the library. The principal came in to deliver notice of a visitor and I was a bit startled. I hadn’t expected anyone, I never do, and when I walked outside I did not recognize her.
We greeted and she began in Sesotho. At first it was just syllables and then I understand she was thanking me for helping her son, a Form A, get a scholarship. The principle later explained that she can not pay the school fees so this money, coming from a group of Lesotho RPCVs, made the difference between an education or herd boy life for her son. I told her I was so happy for her visit, but realized I used the word for “sorry” instead of “happy.” The principal was right there and fixed the miscommunication. We shared giggles while saying “thank you” over and over.
If the day had ended there it would have been one of my best in Lesotho. It didn’t.
This week the students are preparing to compete in sports day in a nearby village over the weekend. We have ended classes after lunch, at 2, so students could practice football (soccer), netball (like basketball but without dribbling) and volleyball (just volleyball). I usually sit and watch, waiting for the time to pass because I have watched a lifetime of volleyball thanks to my sports reporting days, but today some of the students asked me to join in.
One either side of the volleyball net, teams of four took turns lobbing the ball over. There was a point system – which made no numerical sense to me – and when a team loss another would take its place. The kids I was teamed with were pretty awful; they kept hitting the ball in the wrong direction and sometimes would swing and miss, unlike me who hit perfect spikes and sets. (Note: The opposite of that maybe closer to the truth, I forget.) One teacher completely wiped out while but he still claims to be better than me. Sure.
See, I like volleyball as much as I like bowling, which is not in the least bit. Still, I caught myself laughing. I was having fun. And it was more enjoyable to just chuckle along with my students as we (me) made ourselves (myself) look like dorks (dork). In a very Hallmark-like moment, I stared out at the mountains with my students running around in the foreground and said to myself, “I have a pretty darn good life.”
This day was not alone in its goodness – much of last week was pretty good. What it reminds me is that, although the emotional roller coaster will continue throughout my service, things are feeling more comfortable. I am starting to believe that not only do I belong – and as me, not some adapted version – but I can actually be of help.