I am thankful for family. For the Hlaeles, who took in an American girl with little Sesotho and strange running habits and made her their daughter. For the Mangans, the family that did not shame or guilt me for leaving and instead supported and rooted me on. For the small number of days left until I see my family again. For the time away from my family so I can appreciate them that much more. For the volunteers that became my family and all the holidays, birthdays and simply fantastic days we’ve spent together.
I am thankful for friends. For the friendships that strengthen through letters and lengthy emails. For the friends that, although finances were tight, sent me a package just so I could feel loved. For the friendships that dissolved across continents and brought forth those that have always mattered. For crappy phones that allow me to BBM or SMS friends across the country. For long morning chats at 5 a.m. with other volunteers. For the people who hurt or disappointed me. For the people I hurt or disappointed.
I am thankful for Lesotho. For the starry nights and cups of tea. For Machache. For the long walks amongst the green rolling plains. For the sunsets.
I am thankful for my health. For the ability to run. For yoga. For the love I can now show my body.
I am thankful for Basotho. For those who helped me carry groceries or showed me to the proper taxi without knowing my name. For the lessons in love and life that they taught me. For accepting me as one of them. For my teachers. For my students. For the little village kids that greet me with hugs or “I love you.”
I am thankful for my two and half years in Africa. For the chance to travel. For the experience of living in a different culture. For the times I succeeded. For the times I failed. For the chance to grow. For the chance to see my ugly sides.
I am thankful for simplicity. For living without modern conveniences. For the little money I get that is enough for hummus and olive oil. For long afternoons of reading and naps. For that occasional cup of coffee or pizza. For the times when I redirect frustration into dancing and the giggles that come from village kids as I awkwardly shake.
I am thankful that I said yes. For the opportunity to follow a dream. For the resilience to keep going when I wanted to quit. For the person it forced me to be. For the unending support from loved ones. For God’s grace. For the better person this has made me. For the confidence and pride I feel as I near the end of my Peace Corps service.