The train doesn’t stop here anymore, it just whizzes past, offering a glimpse of the high speed world outside the village. It interrupts the tranquility of the night for a brief moment.
I am reminded of the world that I come from—the world that I will soon return to. I am reminded that I, too, am a fleeting presence in this village, just like the passengers on the train. The train passes through for 1 minute each day; I passed through for two years, a brief amount of time when viewed in the context of a lifetime.
I hope that in those quick two years that I passed through Diarabakoko I looked out the window and away from what I was doing often enough and purposefully enough to learn something from the people who stood at the tracks waving to me: about their culture, their hospitality, and our common humanity. I hope that I wasn’t so eager to get to my destination that I forgot to wave back to them and to enjoy the ride.
I hope that the brief moment of light that I brought inspired hope and not fear. I hope that they learned something about me, even if our perspectives were as different as dark and light, still and moving.
I hope that, when I get to my destination, I can tell others about what I witnessed on my journey.
Selfishly, I hope that my light is not quickly forgotten. I hope that, after I have passed the village, the people stand by the tracks lingering, if only for a few seconds.
I hope that the light of the volunteer after me is met with even more enthusiasm and hope.
I hope that I recognize my own limitations in the knowledge I could have possibly gained by momentarily peeking out a window (not being privy to the underpinnings and subtleties of an entire culture) while still recognizing the value and inherent worth of what I did learn.
So as I pass the last sign in my village before continuing on my journey, I give one last look out the window to my adopted family, friends, colleagues, and children who, as every returning Peace Corps volunteer knows, have given me so much more than I could have possibly given them.
|Train passing through Diarabakoko from Cote d'Ivoire|
THANK YOU to all of you who have supported me throughout this journey—I simply could not have done it without you. Thanks to my amazing and supportive family, who called me every Sunday (and then some) without fail and who made the trip over to experience my life here firsthand. Thanks to my mom who has become a package pro and who, on my visit home, made every meal I was craving. Thank you to the friends and family who wrote to me and sent me packages: Jasmin White, Liz Alarcon, Brian Roberts, Zach Jobin, Jessica Zucker, nana, grandma, and Auntie Anne. When you’re living a world away, these gifts and words of encouragement seem to shorten the distance, at least temporarily. Thank you to my fellow volunteers, the most amazing and diverse group of people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. More specifically, thank you to McKenna Radunzel, Ashley Geesman, Rachel Taylor, and Sam Gradess. Thanks for sharing in my sadness, laughter, and, let’s be honest, confusion throughout the past two years. I will leave Burkina sharing memories, understanding, and a convenient secret language, with all of you. Thank you to the French classroom in North Carolina who I corresponded with—I loved your questions and enthusiasm! Thank you to the professors and former employers who helped me with recommendation letters as I prepared for my next journey, law school, despite the distance and difficulty involved and my constant harassment through email: Dr. Evnine, Jeff Hensley, Jill Zarchin, Karla Fuentes, and Scott Woodcock. Lastly, but certainly not least, thank you to all of you who have followed this blog and/or kept in touch me with me through Facebook. A big part of my job as a volunteer is to bring this experience back home and help educate Americans about Burkinabe culture—I hope I have been able to do that effectively and honestly through this blog and this part of my job is really just beginning as I make the trip home to America.
See you in England August 3rd and in America August 11th!