My first year of Peace Corps service in Burkina Faso has just finished. This time next year, I will find myself back in the United States, preparing to move back to Bloomington, Indiana were I finish my last year of graduate school at SPEA. As I reflect on the past year, several events come to mind. I’ve learned a lot and lived a lot in the past year. It, however, does not feel like a year. The summation of memories, events, and life lessons do not seem to total a year. Time passes by quickly and I need to make the most of it.
I have made many great friends, both within Peace Corps and in my village. Looking both backwards and forwards, as I’ve built these friendships, I have to wonder how long they will endure after my service comes to a close. For several of my volunteer friends, I truly think that I have laid down a good foundation of friendship that will be further solidified by the fact that we are heading back to the states. This experience does, though, make me think back to the friends I made while studying abroad in Australia. We kept in touch for a short time, but after about half a year it all began to fade. I was no longer living right next door to them and we were living different lives. I have, however, kept in touch with the friends I made during my one year of grad school before heading off to Burkina. Maybe the extra semester made the difference? Or the fact that we were studying and wanting to work in the similar fields?
Then I think to my village friends. Issouf, Amedue, Yvonne, Rasmane, and my entire family in Banzon have meant a lot to me. After I leave, will I keep in touch with them when 5,000 miles separates us? Given the mail system here, I can’t mail any letters to my village but rather only to the post office located in Bobo. No one, however, has a post box there. Then there comes Skype calling. Yes, I could call but how often will that happen? How long will I keep up calling my Burkina friends and family? Past volunteers have done a horrible job at keeping in touch, but I can’t blame them. I don’t think the Burkinabe do either. Life changes. I’ll never forget the friends I’ve made, but it will be hard to maintain contact.
Is this all a part of making the most of the moment? Its hard to keep past moments alive when living in the now. Then there comes to what I’m doing, worrying about the future a year from now, which is really removing me from the moment. So as I wrap up this post and return to the moment, I want to thank the friends (past and present) that have helped me this last year. Now, I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring and what friends (past, present, and future) will shape this experience. One year down, one year to go.