After months of consideration I have decided to go home. During my deliberation I went back and forth through a range of emotions. So many people back home were proud of me for being in Ethiopia and letting them down was no easy choice to make. Everyday I had to make the choice to stay here. Some days were great, some days weren’t but every night when I was alone in my house I wanted to leave.
I’ve been thinking back to why I joined the Peace Corps in the first place. Ever since I was a child whenever I heard about mission trips or service trips I was inspired to go out into the world and do something meaningful. The harsh realities of development have crushed a lot of that altruistic part of myself. Ethiopia in particular has been receiving large amounts of aid from various countries for decades. Yet development appears to be moving at a snails pace and the distribution of wealth is alarming. Just because this is Peace Corps it doesn’t automatically make this work meaningful. If anything this experience has been meaningful for myself and for educating my friends and family about life in Ethiopia.
A major reason for why I am leaving is my lack of job satisfaction. Gondar is an area of Ethiopia with a lot of money. There is a huge disparity between the have’s and the have not’s. The difference between a public school and a private school here is night and day. I understand why most NGO’s in Gondar work with the private schools, even though the public schools are in dire need of their help. The private schools have more resources and more people who know how to properly use the resources. Most private schools are full day classes and the teachers themselves want to be there. Public schools are half day and a lot of the teachers are there to do their job and go home. So many of the problems in the public schools are out their control and my ability to make an impact big or small was bleak. The public school curriculum sets children up to fail (I’d like to take this time to point out my face in the right hand corner where you should click and read the disclaimer that these views are mine and mine alone and not that of the Peace Corps). I’m sure other volunteers will be able to make changes and do great things, my heart is just not in it.
The next more serious reason is safety. I won’t be getting into it here and I was never harmed during my service. Simply put, this part of the world is very unstable and if you’d like to know more about my views on this you can talk to me in person.
This experience has taught me a lot about myself and what I want out of life. I know that I can live in a foreign land by myself, I can learn a language and I’m a lot braver than I thought I was. I know that whatever I do from here on out has to be fulfilling and meaningful to me. Being out in the world helping people in theory seemed like it would be the right fit for me but the task at hand wasn’t.
Leaving my compound family was possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. They were the main reason I stayed as long as I did. If my job was to hang out with them for 2 years I could do that with no problem. I truly love each and every one of them. The night I left they made signs for me and a huge meal. They gave me two dresses and 6 kilos of berbere and shuro powder so I won’t starve in America. Needless to say I had to leave a lot more of my clothing than I was planning to accommodate all the gifts they gave me. I gave Abi and Meta all the silly bands I had which helped us to stop crying and have some fun before I left. At 6:30 in the morning Eden insisted I have some misir wat (my favorite wat) before I left. Which was very sweet of her, it had been a long time since someone had forced me to eat a large spicy breakfast however. I have their numbers and I will keep in contact with them and I told Abi if he works hard to graduate from high school I will work hard to save up enough money to see him do it.
I’m ready to move onto the next part of my life. Coming home is scary and exciting. I know that jobs are difficult to find, grad schools are hard to get into. I’m glad I tried this. It took strength just to get on the plane in the first place and in some respects more strength to admit I’m not happy here, this job isn’t for me and I’m not going to spend 2 years being miserable when I could move on. If I could turn back time I would have still made the decision to come here. It was a great experience. I will always have a special place in my heart for this country, the people I have met and the friends I’ve made.