Friends here in Peace Corps are not static. They are not long lasting, daily adventures, high school dramas, and lockers shared or roommates for life. We meet in a hotel, then fly on a plane, forced into many training sessions until we are sworn in as volunteers and we separate for the next two years. There, we are then pushed into a group that is in our province filled with volunteers of different ages of service as some are only 4 months away from completion, others are 9 months away, and the closest of age are nearing their half service mark as you have started the beginning of yours.
You will see your friends from training again. You are not lost from them forever but everyone notices the shift. You came in together and had experiences in the beginning but everyone’s service is different. Different by the village, the province, the area, and the moment. Timing of the country and its history and of the people even change your experience.
And though projects maybe met with same conflicts, we grow differently. People you’ve met before leaves and the new friends that come in do not know who came before.
Fades for you and begins for them. But when you meet it is with a fervor and a deep happiness to have met someone of your own. Someone who is understanding of what you face and evidence that living in a distant country is possible. Evidence that having different experiences that no one else can understand is actually a bonding reason to the tenth degree.
I learned quickly coming into this that I could do it with people I came in with. But they too suffered and we needed older volunteers to show is that traveling and existing as a volunteer could be more than surviving, even thriving.
You can do this. Seeing older volunteers meet you and see them leave and then to meet new volunteers and say goodbye is a ritual. It is a mark of adaptation. That this is a journey that constantly feels uphill and isolating but a community of people who understands this path.
At the beginning and at the end.
You need us and we need you.