After a week of office paperwork and goodbyes, I am finally sitting in the waiting area of Entebbe airport. I have waited over two years for this moment when I can say that I finished my Peace Corps service and can continue on my life with the next adventures. I like to think that I will look back on my experiences here from time to time and think about how they changed me in unimaginable ways. To attempt to sum up my entire service in a few measly sentences would be futile, so instead I present the three Close-of-Service reflections during the three days that I remained in the Peace Corps Uganda office in Kampala.
End of Peace Corps Service (Post 1 of 3)
Engatto zange, my shoes. Since November 2013 I have worn this pair of shoes and experienced the entirety of my service in Uganda while supported by them. I hiked up volcanoes, squatted in pit latrines, canoed/swam across lakes, danced in dancehalls, biked across the country, taught lessons, walked over 1000km, waded through muddy impasses during rainy/landslide seasons, braved the dusty dervishes of the villages during dry seasons, and literally experienced all the highs and lows of the past two years while walking in these shoes.
Paraphrased F. Scott Fitzgerald: “So we beat on, wanderers against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the dust.”
End of Peace Corps Service (Post 2 of 3):
Abantu = People in Luganda, which is a branch of Bantu languages spoken in over 500 dialects throughout subsaharan Africa. It’s meaning is related to the South African Zulu word “ubuntu” which means humanity and the belief in the universal bond of acknowledging one another’s worth as a human being. I am because of you. In my experiences, I have understood the importance of great ideas, philosophies and words. But I have also come to know about the importance of people; the people who make up cultures, enact beliefs, and whose very existence make up who we are.
I won’t be able to tell the “African story”, and I won’t be able to even tell the “Ugandan story”, but I will be able to share the story of my time in a small village called Luteete that was my home.
End of Peace Corps Service (Post 3 of 3):
At 5pm today, I hit the Close of Service gong with a branch of matooke and officially ended my Peace Corps service. I have no more words to share about these past few days other than the ones that have inspired me and stayed in my heart and mind: “Do it for the story.” It’s the stories that stay with us and allow others to travel in our shoes for a short time and share our humanity.