Today is Thanksgiving. If I were in the states, I would surely be in the midst of roasting, baking, and sautéing the day away. All likely accompanied with a giant glass of red wine. Instead, I’m in Georgia where today is just another Thursday. Well, almost. Something about being away from home on Thanksgiving seems to make all of us PCVs a little more excited about the holiday and just a little bit mushy. So, in that spirit, I wanted to share the many things I’m thankful for over the past year. It’s been a big one.
This year I was able to realize a dream I’ve had since I was 22. A dream I was pretty sure would become one of those things I regretted not doing when I died. And of course, as it should be, my Peace Corps experience has been everything and nothing I expected. I’ve made incredible friends, begun learning about a new culture and language, and am trying to share whatever I have of value with my Georgian coworkers and friends. At the same time, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the expat life which is an experience all its own. I’m so thankful for my Peace Corps experience.
Before I headed off to the Peace Corps, I had a lot of anxiety about being a “mid-career” volunteer amongst a bunch of people in their mid-20s. I still think it was a reasonable concern, but in the end the age difference has proven rather insignificant. Perhaps this is because I’ve proven much more adept at playing a 25 year old than I would have ever thought possible. At any rate, I’ve made wonderful friends here of all ages. Some force me out of comfort zone, others provide an ear when I’m feeling down, with some I commiserate over the bleakness of the metaphorical winter, some I sing, dance and drink with, and some just keep me smiling. We all spent the whole week together last week at our annual All Volunteer conference. It was a blurry week of learning, cooking, drinking, playing, and laughing and I couldn’t imagine a better group of people to spend it with. Super thankful for my Peace Corps family.
Over the past year, I’ve depended on a lot of people. From my friend Katie who let me move in with her after I sold my house to my mom who tolerated me for the month I was in Indiana, I’ve had a lot of people taking care of me. So, thank you to those who have given me a bed to sleep in, shared an evening of conversation and drink with me, broken bread with me, sent me love in the form of care packages, spent time skyping with me or keeping up via email. It makes me feel very special to have so many people out there thinking of me. And thank you to all of you have kept up with my blog. But special thanks go to two people. First, to Nancy for taking care of my boy Chester while I’m off on this adventure. It gives me tremendous peace of mind to know that he is so well taken care of and so happy. If I didn’t know that, I couldn’t be here. And second, to my PST family in Khashuri who took me in when I only knew a few words of Georgian, fed me, and encouraged me. It takes really special people to take in a stranger who doesn’t speak your language and make them feel like family.
Lastly, a big thank you to Georgia for the following: weight loss, a higher alcohol tolerance, mstvadi, your natural beauty, your hospitality, a new appreciation for the diversity of “American” food, a stunning fall, and the opportunity to live and learn in your country over the next year and a half. Life is good.