My time as a Peace Corps Volunter is about to end.
I am medically separating from Peace Corps South Africa. In about five hours from now, I will be on a plane bound for the US.
I didn't say it before, but I've thought a lot about it these last several weeks, and I feel it's more productive (than not) to share what happened that caused me to move from Mafikeng.
More than a month ago, I was sexually assaulted at my site. Peace Corps pulled me out in fear for my safety, but it's been all downhill from there. The assault has had cultural ramifications for me and I don't feel safe when I'm not around Americans I know will protect me.
I'll definitely be sharing more in the future regarding this issue because I found out through this process that Peace Corps has NO global policy on sexual assault or rape. For an organization that operates worldwide and in some pretty unstable countries, I think this is appalling. I am planning to devote time when I return to working with Peace Corps, PCVs, RPCVs, etc. on this.
But, for the very short term, I'm just focusing on going home.
Visions of hot showers, unlimited Internet and indoor flush toilets flash through my mind. People ask me what I want to do when I get home. All I can think of is just hugging my parents. A lot. And seeing my family and friends who have been so steady for me through this ordeal. I don't care which food I eat first, now I just want to see my family. (And if we share that quality time over Donatos pizza or Skyline Chili, that's even better : )
Looking ahead, it seems like I have a lot to catch up with at home. My NY Times e-mail updates have been talking a lot about this new healthcare reform process and Sotomayor, so I'll have to get up-to-date with my current events.
I'm also excited to hear really silly news again on a daily basis. Like I saw the other day on Yahoo that Paula Abdul is quitting American Idol. I'm so used to hearing about workers striking, more HIV, more raping, young boys dying from botched circumcisions and the like that I'm not sure I'll know what to do with fluffy news again.
I'm nervous about the American economy since I thought when I'd be back in spring 2011, the economy would be in a different place. But, my Peace Corps experience turned out to be very different than I'd hoped and it's not safe or healthy for me to be here anymore. I will have to play the hand I've been dealt.
I suppose, in general, that this blog as my Peace Corps experience is finished. But I hope to keep this as my life experiences blog, which will include working with PC in DC on a global sexual assault and rape policy. If you are interested in helping or if you're an RPCV or current PCV and would like to help this cause, please comment or email me at email@example.com. I've never done anything like this before, but I can only imagine that with the US government, it may take awhile and may be complicated beyond my wildest dreams. But if I can prevent what happened to me from happening to anyone else, that is what I will do. If Obama wants to double Peace Corps, we have to get some basics in place first.
Thanks to everyone who has followed my experiences thus far. Even though my Peace Corps chapter is finishing, there's still much more to come : )
And thank you to my Peace Corps friends. I will miss you all incredibly, but am so excited to hear upates about the work you are doing!