The bags were packed fastidiously, straining at the zippers, holding my life for two years. As I rolled through the airport, bogged down by heavy bags and unbridled expectations, I could scarcely believe that the time had finally come. The day I stepped on a plane and began my African journey, moving from my born-and-raised Iowa home to the unknown in South Africa.
The next few days held orientation, meeting and greeting, and an grueling 16 hour flight over the Atlantic, surrounded by 56 other volunteers who would be my training cohort. Together, we left our lives in the USA, moving to a situation that we had very little knowledge about.
I didn’t know where I would be living, what we would be doing, what language I would be speaking, or even where I would be sleeping that night. The precious little I did know still left me unprepared for the ups and downs of Peace Corps service.
There came a time during this process when I had to decide if I would stay or go. That moment when I said goodbye to my family in a busy airport hallway. Not knowing if I would see them at all for two years, or when I’d even hear their voices again. And despite the very difficult goodbyes, I chose to go, rather than stay.
To move far beyond my comfort zone.
To embrace the unknown.