So it’s been about two months at this point, and I guess it’s time to wrap up this chapter of my blog.
2008 was undoubtedly the best year of my life. Many people treat my year abroad as this great sacrifice I made, but I often wonder if I got more out of my volunteer work than my children did. I miss them every day, but the pace of life here leaves little time for reflection. I tried calling back to the village a week or two after we first got back, and the language barrier was much more difficult than I had anticipated. We had little trouble communicating in person, but somehow over the phone the communication was nearly impossible. The good news is that we’re in regular contact with the new volunteers in our village (unfortunately neither of them are at my school) and it seems that they can provide a link to the children. I’ve compiled a little photo album for all of our regular visitors (roughly that list of “Who’s Who” from Dan’s blog earlier this year!) and I’ll send them to the new volunteer, Chloe, to distribute to the children. She recently asked for my address and said she had “some things to send me,” so I’m guessing there are precious letters from the children on their way!
Since coming home I’ve had a lot of trouble figuring out what I want to do next. The answer to that is still unclear, but I’ve at least found an outlet for utilizing the skills I’ve acquired/sharpened during my year in Namibia. I’ve become involved with SEALNet again (Southeast Asian Leadership Network). I first became involved with them in 2007, when I went on “Project Thailand,” which was a 2 week project to set up a recycling bank in a rural village and teach the community about the importance of recycling. I’ve just been chosen as a mentor for this year’s Project Malaysia, which means I’ll be guiding the project leaders through the process of planning and executing the project. The nature of the project is promoting environmental responsibility and educating the local population about the importance of it, which I think I’m at least relatively qualified for!
I’m also beginning to see the beauty of networking! From my work with SEALNet my name has floated about and I’ve just been contacted by an individual who is trying to set up a project that will help Vietnamese students with learning English. The idea is to set up Skype calls between Vietnamese students and native English speakers where the English speaker can lead “discussions” with 5-6 Vietnamese students. I feel pretty honored– they want me to lead the trial session and give them feedback on benefits and setbacks! I’ll be doing that sometime next week and am a little wary of the whole thing (based on my pathetic attempt to stay in contact with my Namibian learners through the phone!), but I’m hoping it works out well.
For the time being I’m nannying three days a week and trying to fill up my remaining time with projects like I’ve listed above, not to mention I still have the lofty task of compiling a year’s worth of experiences into a (although most likely MANY) scrapbook(s). We’re still going through the process of trying to bring Meameno and Paulina over for a “cultural experience”! Meameno has been granted a visa and Paulina has been given a full birth certificate (long story, but that was the biggest obstacle standing in the way of her obtaining a visa). Once they’re both granted visas, we have to begin raising money for their trip here. We had originally been planning for May, but it’s now looking like August will be the earliest they can come. I’ll keep you updated on this and whatever other adventures I can manage to get myself into. 🙂
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” –Peter F. Drucker