October 24, 2012
In life there are hundreds of beginnings and endings, many of which meld into one another. For me my Peace Corps story has come to an end and I am beginning the next book ok my life. I can hardly believe that as of this Friday I will have been back in the states for a month. So much has happened and so much has been going on that time flies by at the speed of sound. Life can take us in so many fabulous directions and more often than not we cannot predict where life is going to lead us, the people we are going to meet on the way, or the things that happen to us. The best laid plans can go astray and all things happen for a reason, even when we can’t understand why at the time. These two statements are probably the most important lessons I learned while in the Peace Corps.
I never thought that I would be one of the volunteers that came home early. I never dreamed that I was going to get injured or be working at a zoo for my service. I never imagined that I would meet so many amazing and fabulous people along the way. I never understood how much a person can change in a years time. I went into the Peace Corps to change my life. Of course I also wanted to help others and work on development and culture exchange, but I can also admit that there was some selfishness involved. My life needed to change and I needed some new perspective. Peace Corps was my calling as well as my answer. I remember the day I just knew that joining Peace Corps was the right choice for me; there was no more doubt or question in my mind. I don’t know if I somehow got a glance at my future or if I understood a message sent from above, but I knew that I needed to join Peace Corps. I have learned to listen to that little voice when it speaks to me; I don’t know if it’s my gut talking, my sub conscious, God, or some other cosmic happening I do not understand. I have learned to go with my instincts and have learned to trust my own judgment. I have come to not only to understand but to also accept that all things, the big ones, small ones, and the in-between; all happen for a reason. Our lives can change on a dime. Someone we randomly meet might be catalyst for the next part of our lives, because after all nothing is actually random. An event might change us forever and get us where we need to go even though we had no idea. This is what happened to me at Munda Wanga. I think I was supposed to go there for so many reasons and the only way to get me there was getting in a bad car accident.
Looking back now at my Peace Corps experience, I cannot help but feel anything but to have been blessed to have been able to do it and to have gone to Zambia. It changed my life in so many ways, the majority of them completely unexpected. Was it easy? No. Was it painless? No. Did it open my heart and spirit to a whole new world of understanding and acceptance? Hell yes. Would I recommend it someone else? Yes, but with advisories. Would I do it again? That is the toughest question for me. There is a part of me that wants to say yes, because it was so great and I loved my work and the incredible people I met, but at the same time I know the “shit show” Peace Corps it’s self can become. What I went though medically was horrific, I cannot deny that, but it was the callousness and hostility that I experienced when leaving that makes me never want to put myself in that position again. I will never for the life of me understand why they made it so difficult and stressful for me to bring my cat home with me. I have no doubt that someday I will work overseas again with either an NGO or as a volunteer with some other organization or on my own. The work I accomplished and the people I met along the journey is what made my Peace Corps experience unforgettable and amazing.
My life is at a turning point right now. I am picking up the pieces that I left behind and now am also adding all the new pieces I have acquired in the last 14 months and I am rebuilding my life as well as myself. There are some days I feel as if I am on a great precipice, and I know that there is always that possibility of falling to my doom, but rather than ever fearing that again I focus on the unstoppable wind blowing toward me. I know my wings are strong and my mind is sharp and capable of anything and I know that I am going to soar. Life as a funny way of knocking us down sometimes but as long as we find the updraft or look to the good and positive we can always find our way back up. This may be the end of my Peace Corps journey but it is only the beginning of the rest of my life. I can never ever regret being in the Peace Corps or going to Zambia I can only ever be thankful for all I leaned and began to understand along the way. While this is the end of Smiles and Spirit in Zambia it is not the end of blogging for me. I am starting a new one! You can now find my continuing story, adventures, and miss steps on http://tammystales.wordpress.com/. To all the followers and readers out there of my blog, Thank You! I hope that this blog helped to fulfill some part of your life or was helpful in some way. It’s amazing how we can form so many connections in the world now days. If anyone is interested please come and follow my new blog and continuing life story. Love you all, Tammy