It has been 30 days since I left eSwatini.
I am sure you have a million questions, and I do, too. Simply, Peace Corps ended my service because of a security incident.
It took me this long to tell you because I still wish this was a nightmare that I could wake up from, and I wish that waking up would be in my bed in eSwatini.
For those of you who know me, you know this was not how I expected my service to end. I had another year of plans as a volunteer and was just getting into the swing of a job I was finally loving and was finally putting my skills and talents to work.
I remember a few months ago at Homecoming at BGSU, my favorite journalism professor asked me how I, the student who planned nearly every minute of a journalism trip to Paris and became known as a meticulous planner, was handling the relaxed time of Africa. My answer was that I prepared for it by taking water, food, and a book everywhere I went.
I was immobilized during my time of uncertainty about my future as Peace Corps decided my fate, and when Peace Corps (or you) decides your service is over, you have 72 hours to complete a multitude of tasks and move out.
What I learned as this situation progressed, is that your country director has power and that power can be used to make your situation less shitty. For example, I received extra time to end my service and was able to leave eSwatini with a slightly better state of mind and with more belongings. So make sure you have a good relationship with your country director. (I also wasn’t a horrible wreck when I got to the airport, even after someone accidentally stole one of my bags—she realized she had the wrong one after a few nerve-racking minutes and returned it—which meant I was also able to surprise all the airline staff with my siSwati skills and get my extra checked bags at a lower price. So learn your local language.)
And at the end of this, at least I can remember all the nice things that staff and my friends did for me during my time of extreme need.
While I try not to panic at being unemployed, I keep reminding myself that one of the now-PCVs said to me that she hopes that she can be a PCV like me, and I hope that is enough for now.
P.S. I now have an American phone number for my calls and WhatsApp. Let me know if you’d like it.