Looking Forward

Snow capped mountains and wilting corn stalk can only mean one thing.

Snow capped mountains and wilting corn stalks can only mean one thing.

I am on the downslope of my Peace Corps service. I’ve been on the downslope of my service since August and ever then since, I’ve been in awe over the fact that I have less than a year in country. I’ve been really bad about blogging my PC experience this last year and change, although anyone who knows me has probably caught me furiously writing in my journal at some point in time. Even still, I’d like to commemorate my last ten months in country by writing at least one blog entry a month and posting it every 19th of the month. Barring extension or change of date – where one can leave 30 days before or after their official COS date – August 19, 2016 is my official COS date and surprisingly, I’m really looking forward to it.

I say surprisingly, because I love my service, I love being a Peace Corps Volunteer, and a year ago this time, extending was a definite possibility. However, now I can actually see myself leaving Kosovo in August. Maybe that’ll change in the next few months, who knows, but for now the impending August 2016 leave date for me feels like a bittersweet close to an awesome period of time in my life. The second year is so different from the first.The familiarity with the language, my community, and the way of life here makes everything more comfortable. I know the people and can move about with more ease than I could last year. It’s honestly, the little things that only time could have affected that make the second year what it’s turning out to be.

If I had to put it into perspective, last year was the learning year where a lot of mistakes were made all in the name of progress. This year seems like it’ll be the year of growth and successes. My November alone is packed to the brim with things that I have to accomplish, some for my own personal growth, but most to grow me as a teacher and volunteer. My students this year are all the students I had last year. I know what they’re all capable of after working with them for a year, so this year I’m a little more educated on how to approach their strengthens and weaknesses when it comes to learning English. In turn, I feel like they’re expecting more out of me as a teacher. In these first two months of the new school year alone I’ve had students come up to me, bright eyed and hopeful, about having English extracurricular courses, students who I’d originally thought were apathetic about learning the English language. I’ve had other students come up to me and give suggestions about what they’d like to learn about and do in the extracurricular English Clubs, when a year ago I would have been met with silent stares when asking for their input.

If last year was about planting seeds, then this year is about watching them grow. Peace Corps is always quick to remind us volunteers that we won’t see the effects of our service during our service. They say it might even be years before any changes in our communities start to show and maybe they’re right. If you’re planting the seeds of a giant oak tree then yea, it’ll take years to see it become the big, great mass that it’s meant to be, but if you look close enough in the beginning, you might just be able to see the little leaves of the sapling poke out from the soil. That’s what I’m witnessing now in this second year. I’m witnessing my students’ progress with the English language, their desire to speak out more and take initiative, where before they just waited for me to tell them what to do.

These last few months are definitely going to be great. I’m not looking forward to winter and the cold that it brings with it, but November is so packed with stuff to do, I’ll blink and it’ll be over. Then I’m blink again and Christmas will be here. I make it sound so dramatic when I put it that way, but it’s exactly how I feel at the moment.

“The most beautiful moments always seemed to accelerate and slip beyond one’s grasp just when you want to hold onto them for as long as possible.” ~ E. A. Bucchianeri

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Happy New Year!!!

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A little over a week into the new year and I’m still relatively excited about everything that’s going to happen…excited and a bit overwhelmed. There will be a lot going on this year: tests to be given, conferences to attend, as well as the the arrival of the Kosovo 2 cohort. I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions for myself, and if I had I would have broken every last one already, seeming as I haven’t done anything in a constant fashion since the year started. Instead, I decided to be more mindful of things, things that I need, things that I have to accomplish, and also the needs of others around me, which is a really big one to consider as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I don’t know what this blog’s purpose will be in 2015, if it’s to give advice, tell a story, or allow me to stream of consciously narrate anything and everything that’s happening to me (it’s probably not that one), but I know this to be true: six months, three seasons, and one new year later, joining Peace Corps and coming here to serve in Kosovo is still one of the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It’s not easy. Life here is not easy, being a PCV is not easy, and I’d be lying through my teeth if I said it was. It’s worth it though. I hope I still feel that way come August 2016, but for now it’s true. Here look:

Have you ever seen a pretty sunrise?

Have you ever seen a prettier sunrise?

The experiences that I’ve been given here, the friends that I’ve made, even the trials that I face, all make serving here worth it. So in 2015, whether it’s finally deciding to apply for Peace Corps, doing that study abroad you’ve been dreaming about, asking that person out, or going on an adventure of a lifetime, whatever it is just try it. 2015 will be the best year of your life, not just because you believe it, but because it’s the one you’re living now. Go do something you think is worth it.