February 10 2019

Your’re Confused; I’m confused

Wait? Are you still in Rwanda? The Peace Corps? The short answer to that question is no. No, I am not.

As of February 3, 2019 I left Rwanda for what I think will be the absolute last time, but I’ve learned to never say never. Earlier this year I was medically separated from the Peace Corps. No hard feelings there, but as medical separation goes, it is a bit of a cluster-fuck.  PC rarely gives you warning that you are being medically separated, therefore there are a lot of unresolved issues that crop up. Rarely is there the opportunity to say good-bye to your cohort, let alone any friends you may have made in other cohorts, and even worse, there’s no opportunity to say good-bye to your community, or pack up what ever of your belongings you want to take with you.

Lake Kivu

I was medically separated on January 4, 2019. I was medically evacuated a week or so prior. I lived in the infirmary at Peace Corps Head Quarters in Kigali for 36 days. I left my little house on the corner on November 17, thinking I’d return in just over a week thanks to a Peace Corps training. But no, I never did return owing that to an injury suffered while at said training.

Think of it as a medical discharge from the military. I didn’t quit; they quit on me. However, I had an inkling that this might happen and ‘escaped’ med hold one weekend, went back to by house, packed up all the stuff that I wanted to keep, packed another bag with some clothes and my camera equipment to take back with me to med hold, and kept my mouth shut about it.  When it was time to actually separate from the Peace Corps, I had all the essentials with me, and all the other stuff packed and ready for PC to send back to me as ‘unaccompanied baggage’. [A Medically Separated PCV is allow to receive up to 100lbs of unaccompanied baggage sent to their home of record per Peace Corps policy.]

However, I already had Peace Corps vacation plans for the month of February so upon arriving back in the US, I did my laundry, organized my stuff, and prepared for returning to Rwanda [I KNOW!], this time not as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but as a private citizen. I arrived to Kigali on January 22, spent the night in Kigali, scooted up to the Equator sign in Uganda, and made plans to visit friends in the northern part of the country that weekend. I had a fabulous weekend in Musanze [the site of the original injury], got to visit some of my friend’s health centers, and had a short but memorable safari at Akagera National Park, and generally had a much better time than I ever had in country as a PCV.  Then I scooted west, towards DRC and Lake Kivu.  I never had the opportunity to visit it while in service and am so glad I did. The scenery around Lake Kivu is amazing.  After that, I headed down south to visit another PCV friend and spent the day in Nyungwe Forest, and it was just as amazing as I though it would be. Then I headed to Huye for one last visit to see my closest fellow volunteers and the area that I called ‘home’ while living in Rwanda, and then it was onward to Kigali once again for the originally scheduled flight back to America.

The second continent on which I have crossed the equator

So to recap:  GSP–>ATL–>AMS–>KIG–>[11 days in Rwanda + 2 days in Uganda]–>AMS [7 hour layover in Amsterdam where I went out and explored the city]–>ATL–>GSP and in a month’s time I’ll go GSP–>WAS–>PAR–>AMS–> LON–>ATL–>GSP. 6 weeks of a true whirl-wind exploring parts of Rwanda, the Netherlands, France, and England.

So what’s next?:  After my injury, I did some contingency planning and applied to a couple of grad school programs.  I’m waiting to hear the results. Starting March 18, I am back to work at the same job I was at before leaving for the Peace Corps [I’m not sad about that; I loved working there and my co-workers]. I still need some time to process everything that has happened in the last 9 months, but one day I hope to be able to look back on my time with the Peace Corps as a positive time.

Murabeho Rwanda

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Posted 10/02/2019 by Michelle in category "Peace Corps

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