Friday, March 27, 2009

Ode to Volunteers

My Peace Corps service thus far has been an excellent one; I am working at an amazing NGO, I live in a city that fits me to a tee and I have a cute little apartment to go home to every night. But for me, the element that has comforted me in the most difficult of times, has inspired me to work harder at my job and has taught me about life as a volunteer is the Peace Corps Volunteer community.

Unfortunately, this Friday four of my fellow volunteers were asked to leave the country. Not only have these four people helped shape my experience in Kyrgyzstan but they were also excellent volunteers who contributed greatly to their sites and their community.

Each of them brought something special to this country but the only one that I was able to visit at site was Joe. Although I know Kelly, James and Alex are being missed by their communities, I got to see, first-hand, how large of a presence Joe had at his site. Just two weeks ago, when I finally made the journey up to Toktogul to see him, it was made obvious immediatly that he was adored in that town. While hosting a tour of his site for Ian and I, he was greeted by almost everyone we passed. When we arrived at his house and walked into his room, we were welcomed by a giant American flag, posters of JFK, Frank Sinatra, Obama and pictures of his family posted all over his wall. I remember think that a walk through Joe’s room was probably the best reflection of America one could find in Kyrgyzstan!

Unfortunaly, despite all the work that Joe and the other three volunteers did in their nine months of service, they were still asked to leave. So with their absence constantly in the back of my mind, I have had to keep reminding myself that as one door closes, another one opens. Hopefully for the four volunteers, once back at home, they will find their stride and land on their feet. And as for me and Kyrgyzstan, this week our K17 group is arriving. Who knows what they bring with them, but for now, all I know is that our volunteer community will be expanding greatly!

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