This is not a paper I would turn into grad school that was proofread, spell checked, and cared about but never or barely read. This is a blog that people will actually read but not grade. I write like I think and talk, which is not organized or correct in many ways. I was diagnosed with chronic sarcasm as a child, its genetic.

The views expressed on this website are entirely my own and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The 'Dark Ages'

Luckily I have an amazing support network- most of us PCVs learned quickly not to rely on our counterparts or Peace Corps- but each other. I have several fellow PCV who I know I can always say something as simple as “he’s such an ass” or “just cried on public transport, again” and they will know exactly what and who I am talking about and how to make me feel better. I also know how big of a deal it is when another volunteer BBMs me royally pissed off because her markers are missing, there is a creche in her house, or someone f’d up a row of the garden. Because when you are having a bad month just stubbing a tow can spiral into a full melt down. 

And that is what I was having. A bad f’n month…which led to another…

It happens to most volunteers at least once in service, my friend recently referred to a couple months of my service as “the dark time”- I can laugh at it now because I feel like I have done a 180 and loving life. Peace Corps has this thing called the “Volunteer Life Cycle,” which I think is silly- but it tells us when we are supposed to be happy and when we are supposed to be miserable. My emotions and productivity have not really correlated to what they predict and considering I changed sites half way through my service I think my brain/cycle was extra screwed up. 

When talking to a fellow PCV who also had a long run of bad days prior to my dark time I tried figuring out what it was that caused mine, got me through it, and got me out of it. As I mentioned before, other volunteers were a key aspect. I share my shopping town with one other volunteer who I can say without hesitation has been one of the best influences I have had in South Africa and also my life. He is not only great because I get zero harassment in town when I am with him (sure, we’re married…) or because we can cuss like well traveled sailors and have a couple beers on a Tuesday afternoon before facing the taxi rank again, but he is also great because he is a friend. It is incredibly helpful for both of us to be able to talk about village life face to face- and more importantly non village life face to face… It sucked I had to move sites, and sucks that the new site is actually more problematic than the last- but the silver lining is I now have Sean as a shopping town mate, great mentor and friend. 

So where was I going with this? Oh right, dealing with crappiness and what helps. Keeping busy and not lying in bed watching a whole TV series in a weekend is one place to start and another for me is working out. Being busy with training and my kids was at times stressful but definitely helped me enjoy site. However, if I only worked out and worked I don’t think I would be feeling this great. I cannot stress enough how lucky I am to be a part of this Peace Corps community, I have made such amazing friends from different walks of life. Some of the people I consider my best friends range from a 24 year old fresh out of college male to a 70 year old woman- with a huge range in between. I love that I talk to a woman who is older than my mother (I suppose could be my grandmother) as a friend. No reservations, just real talk. 

My Peace Corps family has helped in ways that I could never actually explain. It is an unconditional love, support, and understanding that would normally come from years of close friendship. We were all thrown in this weird alternate reality where we saw each other at our worst before we saw the best. We literally all had horrible diarrhea the first full day in country, it was an ice breaker- we cried, we laughed, we freaked out- we were a little crazy...

It seems like after I would get past one challenge another one would slap me in the- so it was my friends who gave me the courage, confidence, and strength to slap back. Whether in Peace Corps with a less than perfect situation or in the states, bad days happen, bad months and sometimes years happen. I think the difference might be that in PC it is pretty much guaranteed. I am so grateful for my PC family- SA23 and my friends from the other group, this really has been the hardest but most amazing experience of my life. And I love SA23!!!!


  1. Great article and well written, Sami!

    1. I am so happy you are out of the "dark ages". And I completely agree, our Peace Corps family is the best!!