The past week has been a blur of strange emotion. It is an odd feeling to be filled with so much joy and happiness whilst also feeling stressed, nervous and sad.
In the past ten days I have taken a readiness to serve test, had one-on-one interviews with my program manager and country director, given a speech at host family appreciation day in Tigrinian, helped put on a two day camp for fifty kids in Butajira, taken a language proficiency test, sworn-in as a volunteer, celebrated, left all my friends, flew to Tigre, and started to settle into my home for the next two years in Maychew. Needless to say it has been emotional.
We all had complaints about Butajira, but leaving turned out to be more difficult than most of us had anticipated. We all grew close to the families that opened their houses and hearts to complete strangers from a far off land. they provided far more than food and shelter, and for that we will always be grateful.
Getting to Addis was exciting. It meant the end of pre-service training and the start of what we came here for. We tried not to think of what it meant to our new friendships. We just tried to enjoy the time we had. There was a day and a half of policy and cultural sessions. The second half of day two was given to us to go buy things that we might not find at our sites or hub towns. As it was international Labour Day, most shops were closed. So after we made it to the one grocery/household items store, we relaxed and celebrated. The following day we were shuttled to the embassy, swore an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States, were given a certificate and some food, and then set free as volunteers.
As we celebrated late into the night and had to be on the bus to the airport early in the morning, there was little time for sentimentality or emotional goodbyes. I've made it to Maychew. It's as nice as I remember, and the hot shower works, so that's nice. I think I'm going to be happy here.
I step out my door to the site of the milk cows with mountains in the background. While I certainly don't confuse it for home, it is welcoming that it doesn't feel too far removed. This will probably change during my time here, both for the better and the worse. Living here will be a challenge, but that challenge is looking less and less daunting every day.