Finding Balance as a Peace Corps Volunteer

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So far in this blog I’ve posted about some of the highlights and downsides from my Peace Corps service. Throughout my time in The Gambia I’ve sought to strike a balance with these moments. At times it wasn’t easy, and it became frustrating, but somehow I pulled it off. This is reflected in one of my journal entries that I wrote during my service and I wanted to share it for this post.

Josh’s Journal
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
2205, Baja Kunda, The Gambia

It’s been forever since I’ve picked up this book. It’s just been sitting on my desk with some other books. Not sure what compelled me to pick it up just now, but I suppose I should record some of the things that stand out in my mind. My last entry was in early April. Since then some of my close friends here have returned home, some very unexpectedly. I can even recall events from two separate days towards the middle of last year. Both easily being two of the worst days of my life. It took so much of myself to keep a level head during those times, but fortunately I was able to.

Not everything was bad though, there were some highlights. I got to go to two separate yoga retreats. Enjoyed myself at both of them. I’ve met some amazing people who came into the country. Some are still here, some have returned to their homes. I still stay in touch with those who have left. I helped lead Marathon March a few times. Had a blast doing that and I think the trainees enjoyed it. HIV/AIDS bike trek was awesome. I had a great teaching partner for that. Some friends even came to see me at my village.

Lately my time here feels like a balancing act. I have good days and bad days, wonderful days and just down right shitty days. Some mornings I wake up with a splitting headache and aggravated with the sound of children crying and donkeys squealing. Days like that just make me think, “fuck this place!” Other mornings I wake up with a great amount of energy and a productive and positive attitude. Again, it’s all a balancing act.

I’ve been thinking a lot about home lately. Especially since the holidays were recent. I can’t say that I’m too upset about not being home for the holidays. Even before I joined the Peace Corps there have been many times when I didn’t get to see my family, so it’s not a new thing for me. But I still can’t help but think about them and my other loved ones back home. Fortunately, I was able to get on Facebook on Christmas day and send messages to people. Christmas here was good too. Spent it with a small group of volunteers and we had a nice meal and watched a movie. We didn’t have a tree, or snow, or an assortment of presents, but we were okay.

Sometimes thinking about going home makes feel both excited and anxious. I can’t stay forever, I have to go home at some point. And I’m getting closer to that point. Sometimes I wish I could fast-forward time, and other times I tell myself to settle down and focus on the here and now. I look forward to seeing people when I get home. As well as other things like having clean feet and people not calling me ‘toubab’. Man I hate that word! But for now I got to live in the moment. Despite some of the things that I dislike about being here, this is pretty awesome. I’m doing something amazing! And this West African adventure is about to get even more awesome in the coming months. Next stop… Morocco!

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