I have less than a week before I leave for Africa. On my bed I have stacks of clothes organized and ready for boxing, and my computer is playing BBC radio where Obama is giving a speech to both houses of Parliament speaking hopefully about the future. I thought I’d give it a listen before it becomes the only reachable station on my shortwave radio. I’m so excited to leave and lord knows I’ve waited long enough for this dream to finally come true. Last April I was accepted and waited patiently for my posting. After a few months I was told I would leave late February, and come January I was told the programs were filled and I would need to wait and see if there would be space for the May-July departures. My mom started pressing me to think about alternatives “just in case.” It was a lot of time to sit and wait, but I hated the idea of giving up. My aunt and uncle were awesome enough to invite me to their home in Chicago to keep my hands busy working downtown and getting quality cousin time until I got further word from PC. I finally received the package I had been waiting for and everything seems to be falling in line—as it usually does.

I waited a lot longer than I thought I would, but I honestly feel more prepared than ever. I’ve gotten to say goodbye to everyone I love and will miss. I learned how to survive without being surrounded by friends locally, living under the roof of a different family. I helped redo a kitchen from the floors to the ceiling and commuted to the city every day—working hard and designing for the often underrated non-monetary rewards. I even found a new friend to practice my french with twice a week—laura, who just happened to be from Cameroon! I got to do everything I wanted to do:

  • ate at all the famous deep dish pizza places
  • saw Peter pan on broadway with my cousins and Nikki (my favorite cubicle neighbor and ice machine escort every morning!)
  • thrift shopped in Wicker park
  • did the Bean and explored everywhere with katie D
  • danced in Boystown with Conner and Jibs
  • had casual monday lunches with Sean
  • went clubbing by limo with Jarred (still don’t understand how)
  • went to an art exhibition featuring the same Jarred (so proud!)
  • finished (almost) an entire kitchen redo
  • saw a bunch of cousin plays!

I loved Chicago, historical blizzard and all. I’ll miss the big city, but I’m ready for my village!

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