It has been a month and two days since I boarded the plane leaving Samoa and headed home. Every day I have thought to myself, “I should really write that final blog entry,” yet self denial of the finality of my time as a Peace Corps volunteer prevented me from sitting down and concluding this twenty-seven month blog. Even today, I find myself at a loss for words. How does one summarize twenty-seven months of service? And how do I capture the lessons learned? The beautiful thing is that this blog has already captured so many of those memories and experiences.
Coming home, I expected more culture shock. I thought that I would be overwhelmed by speeding cars, technology, supermarkets, and of course, the mall at Christmastime. But when it came down to it, coming home felt more like waking from one dream to begin a new one. You might say I eased my transition a bit by road tripping through New Zealand for 16 days before coming back to New York, and maybe that is the reason I was not so overwhelmed by American life. I had anticipated a fear of driving, yet that has not been the case at all. I have been driving every day, and even took a few trips into Manhattan already! I have upgraded my Samoan monochrome cellphone to the iPhone (4s) and am LOVING the apps, games, and easy flow of information. I miss being able to throw my rubbish (oops, trash!) out my back door, but I am appreciative of the regular garbage collection, recycling collection, and composting going on here. And I cannot stress enough how amazing it has been to come home to a snow-less winter! My tan is still holding true, and I still wear my jandals around the house (so weird to wear shoes inside!) but for the most part, I am embracing boot fashion, jeans, and bubble jackets. I have seen Phish twice, Mamma Mia on Broadway, celebrated my birthday in a posh NYC nightclub, eaten pizza, sushi, bagels, and wings, and have visited the Jersey Shore. I have made cookies in an oven and washed clothes in a washing machine. And I have stopped float-testing all eggs before consumption. I have also put away all fans and embraced indoor heating.
Job-wise, I am not sure what is next. I have picked up two part time jobs from my past: dog walking (yes, dogs are friendly here!), and I will soon start working the front desk at the Rockland Conservatory of Music, now in their new location. I am slowly readjusting to the strange sensation of living in my parents’ full house once again, but I am savoring the moments we all have together and am happy to have arrived home when I did.
In a way, I now feel that I have two homes: Skyview, and Samalaeulu. I find myself missing my village and Samoan life to the point where it literally hurts my heart, yet tears do not come to me when I think of leaving. Instead, I feel gratitude for the two years I was fortunate enough to spend living in such a loving village in the South Pacific. The friends I made there and students I taught feel like a family, and thanks to technology, I have been able to stay in touch with many of them; one students, unaware of the time difference, has been calling the house at 3am in the morning! I do not know when I will return to Samoa, yet I do know that when I do, it will not be the same as my two years spent as a Pisikoa. However, the experiences shared there will forever remain in my heart. I am a proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer! Today, the 960 photos I selected out of thousands should arrive and I will be able to relive my 27 months as a volunteer as I create my largest scrapbook to date.
This concludes my blog…. until the next adventure :)