Since receiving my invitation to serve with the Peace Corps in Senegal, it seems as if my life as becoming training grounds for the 27 months I’ll spend in Africa. Starting a new job, moving to a new city, staying with a host family, making new friends, living in a foreign country, and learning a new language are among the lessons I’ve learned so far. As with many lessons, these weren’t always easy to learn, and some were downright difficult. But, in the end, they all lead to good things and strengthened the skills I hope to use as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV).
Months turn to weeks and weeks turn to days as the countdown to March 3 winds down. As I anticipate arriving in Thiès, Senegal for Pre-Service Training (PST), the anxiousness I felt in my stomach is being replaced by pure excitement. Not that I’m not scared, but the strength that is only present in the face of fear is empowering me.
Empowering me to touch up on my French skills. Empowering me to say goodbye to friends and family. And empowering me to invest in the lives of those around me, even if only for a short period of time. Because, although my remaining time in America may be short, the two years I spend in Africa will seem even shorter.
The most important lesson I’ve learned in the last year is to learn from the people around you. Though someone may only appear in your life for a summer, a month, or even just a moment, each human has a life lesson to share.
To listen, to love, to hope, to dream. A few of these have been shared with me.
When I look back on my African experience in two years, I hope I remember the lessons I learned from the people around me. Maybe I’ll change Africa for the better, but I know that Africa will change me for the best. The men and women I live, work, and travel with will share with me just as much as I share with them.
And, I have no doubt, Africa will be training grounds for something even greater. Because life has a way of always preparing us for the challenges we will face, of using our fears to make us stronger.
So, enjoy today for today, but always look forward to something far greater. Although you may not think you have what it takes, take what you have and face your fears. Share what you learn, because, after all, we’re all training.