It’s been one year since swearing in as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic. It’s been a year of challenges, small success, stories about sheep and Soviet legacies, and beginning to understand what it means to work with communities, in development, and the long, arduous road towards lasting, positive change.
A year as a Volunteer is an education, not just about Kyrgyzstan, not just about health, not just about development, but about myself. About what I want to do next. About what I want the final year of my service as a Volunteer to be. I could never have imagined, a year ago taking our oath on a stage watched over by portraits of Lenin and Marx and the old Kyrgyz Communist leaders, the road I have traveled over the past year.
Peace Corps service is all about a small, sometimes immeasurable, victories. Celebrating a project, a heartfelt conversation about new or difficult topics, recognizing in myself all of the changes that have happened over the past year. It’s also about the marking of time – not because I wish that it would go faster, but that the passage of time is inevitable. It happens indifferent to your wishes. At six months, at nine, and now we’ve just passed the point where we have lived in Kyrgyzstan longer than we have left of our service. Volunteers who welcomed us to the life as a Peace Corps Volunteer are packing up, heading for America (and Turkey, and Viet Nam, and Macedonia, and Japan, and Thailand, and a million other places, I’m sure), it’s our turn to welcome the new group.
A year has seemed like a long time, but it really hasn’t been. There will never be enough time to do all of the things we want to do here. But I hope, in some small way, that my year here has made a difference. That I have been part of something important, and that the coming year will continue to challenge me in unexpected ways.