Well, long story short, Peace Corps didn’t work out.
If you remember from my last post, I was evacuated from my village in mid-August and brought to Kathmandu for medical treatment. Ultimately, I didn’t return to my village for a number of reasons, primarily due to health and safety concerns. After a few weeks in Kathmandu, I was evacuated back to the U.S. to receive additional mental health support following some not great stuff that happened over the few months I was in village.
The plan was to spend six weeks back home in Tennessee where I would see a counselor regularly and take some time to mentally and physically recover while enjoying being back home with friends and family. While I had every intention of returning to Nepal to complete my service, Peace Corps and I made a mutual decision for me to medically separate in October, bringing my service to an end much sooner than I anticipated.
While this was a heartbreaking conclusion to come to, I feel that it was the right decision for a number of reasons. Following the incidents that occurred in village over the summer, I was left seriously questioning my health and safety in Nepal and had concerns regarding the way some of the issues I faced were handled at the headquarters level.
I also felt like it was simply time to move on from Peace Corps. What a lot of people don’t know is that I’ve been trying to make Peace Corps work for the last two and a half years. It’s a long story that involves being rejected in the application process, unexpectedly being offered a position in Nepal (that I didn’t apply for), having my life fall apart after being denied medical clearance at the last minute, undergoing months of medical exams only to find out I was misdiagnosed with a potentially life-threatening blood disorder, reapplying, going through the medical clearance process again (successfully this time!), finally arriving in country, going through three months of intense training, swearing-in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer after a hard-fought two years and then having everything fall apart the way it has the past few months. After allowing my life to revolve around this organization for so long, it’s time to gracefully accept that I gave it my all, it didn’t work out, and that’s okay.
So what have I been doing since I returned to the U.S?
I’ve primarily been focusing on getting healthy, both physically and mentally. I’ve been seeing a counselor regularly who has helped me learn to process the events that have occurred over the last few months and has been such a wonderful resource (seriously, we should ALL be seeing a counselor!). I’ve been going to doctor appointments to sort out some lingering health issues (did you even serve in the Peace Corps if you didn’t get a parasite?) and have been gradually trying to get back in shape after not being able to work out for seven months in-country. I’ve also been trying to eat healthier, although, I’m still finding it difficult to resist Western indulgences after living off rice and potatoes for so long!
I’ve also spent quite a bit of time visiting friends over the past month or so, including taking a trip down to Tallahassee to visit some of my friends and former co-workers from my FSU days. It’s always a surreal feeling being back in Tallahassee, but I’m thankful for all the people there that still make it feel like home. I had a great time visiting some of my favorite spots, going to a football game and tailgating, just like old times!
I also took a quick (and I mean REALLY quick) trip up to Philadelphia to see one of my favorite Peace Corps Volunteers who was back in the US for medical treatment. Being able to spend time with someone who understands the reality I lived in Nepal and the challenges of coming back to the US unexpectedly is exactly what I needed. Even though neither of us wanted to be on medical evacuation, the world works in weird ways and I’m glad it worked out that we could reunite stateside!
I even took a trip down to Miami for my birthday weekend! It was a glorious three days full of sunshine, caipirinhas, delicious food and catching up with one of my best friends. I had been to Miami once before a few years ago, but the weather was much better this time so I was able to do more exploring, including visiting South Beach, the hip Wynwood neighborhood and some of Miami’s other popular sights. Hopefully I’ll get around to posting a blog about this trip soon!
So what’s next?
After endless job applications, countless interviews and several offers, I ended up accepting a job working with an international development NGO in Washington, D.C. as an Associate Policy Advisor with their climate change team! I’ll be working a lot on promoting the Paris Agreement and other climate policies that empower those most vulnerable in the world and am really excited to be working with in an awesome team on issues I am so passionate about. I was offered the job, accepted it, moved to D.C., signed a lease for a new apartment and started my job all in about 10 days! So the past few weeks have been a whirlwind, to say the least.
Although I’m still very much in transition right now, I survived my first week of work (which went great!) and am preparing to move into my new apartment next weekend. There are still some kinks I’m working out after wrapping up my Peace Corps service and I’m trying to navigate this whole “being an adult” thing, but I’m figuring things out one step at a time and I’m really excited for this next chapter ahead!