In which Emily gets cleared for lift-off

Greetings concerned citizens!

Thanks for tuning back in for the next chapter in the bizarre story of my life. When we last left it, I had been medically separated, looking at five more months stateside in order to finish my course of medication. Medical clearance took longer than expected (however this delay itself was expected, so there you go) and now, after one month of Medevac and six months of Medically Separated, RPCV civilian life, I have been cleared, reinstated, and am on my way back to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. I leave on Tuesday morning for two days of travel, after which I will have to swear-in, then head back to the ranch at my old site.

I am overjoyed that my host organization is willing to take me back, that I am able to resume my service, and that all this waiting around will now pay off. Multiple people have expressed surprise that I am still going back, after so much time has passed. The things is, the longer the wait got, the more urgent it was that I do go back. Otherwise, the five months I spent of preparation in country, plus the subsequent seven months of healing/waiting around would have been for nothing. Maybe not exactly nothing, but far short of the goals I set for my PC service. Although I am technically an official RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer), it feels fraudulent to call myself one when my time at site totaled to a mere handful of weeks and zero projects completed. In short, the past year is meaningful only if included in a longer narrative in which I return and build on the foundation made last year.

If I wasn’t going to return to Lesotho after being Med-Sepped, I would have made different moves from the get-go in December, tossing in the veritable towel and moving on. I have post-Peace Corps goals, namely law school, that will now themselves be delayed with this delay in my PC service. But I went in to PC with more than an inkling to do good. I did and do hold the conviction that serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer is a foundation that I will build the rest of my career on. It is a life-long dream, and, honestly, I am a very stubborn person. There was no question in my mind that I would reinstate in December, and there has been no question in my mind since.

That is not to say that it has been easy. It is difficult to convey how frustrating it has been, trying to plan my life when I had no inkling of how much time I would have left until my return to Lesotho. That, plus there was zero guidance from any quarter. I scoured the internet looking for an RPCV with a story like mine. None presented themselves. The doctors I saw thought I was in America on vacation when I saw them in November, and when I went for follow-ups in the spring they thought that I had gone back to Lesotho in the meantime. PC HQ was surprised when I told them I had gotten a job during my separation. I wouldn’t hear from the Office of Medical Services for weeks at a time, then they would send me instructions for tasks I had already completed. I struggled to get hired with a sketchy resume and vague plans for the future. I watched as my training group has gone through the steps of service, achievements and challenges alike, vacations, trainings, accomplishments of all kinds, while I tread water in my parent’s basement. It’s very possible that the most difficult part of my service will be the months I spent not in service.

I consider myself lucky, though. When I was sick, I had a wonderful home to return to, and health insurance to pay for the care I needed. In the end, I was medically cleared. I am beyond excited to return and get going with the team at my host org. And I have a new appreciation for how unpredictable life is, how important it is to take opportunities when they are presented, and what a privilege it is to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. However frustrating it has been working within the bureaucracy of Peace Corps, they offer the chance to have a truly unique and beneficial perspective on the world.

That’s all I’ll bombard you with for now. Next time I write, I’ll be in Africa!