Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On IST and Heading Home

Last week we traveled to Addis for a week long training, called IST (In Service Training) or Reconnect. It was a chance for our training group to get back together and talk about how everything is going at site. We shared experiences, specifically about what is working and not working at school, and we all left with some good ideas of things we can implement at our own sites. We also got to learn some more things from Peace Corps staff and learn about how we will report our work to them throughout our service.

At night, we explored Addis and it was so much fun! I can not even express how much we enjoyed it. We ate as much food as we possibly could and drank fancy cocktails and cold beers to our hearts' content. It was magical and such a great time to hang out with our fellow G11s, who are some of the coolest, best people I know. We are all going through this service together and that instantly bonds us. We received the same training, are all teaching English to high school students at our sites, and we are all trying to improve our students' abilities so that they can receive a higher education and make their country and this world a better place. I felt like I was with family and there is nothing one misses most this time of year than family.

And then the week ended, leaving all of us hungover, dehydrated, and extremely sad to be leaving it all behind. We won't have another whole group get together like this until October—10 months away. Leaving was very difficult. I didn't want to go back to my site away from all the friends and food I had enjoyed over the past week. As I hugged everyone goodbye, I never wanted to let go.

On the morning we were headed back to Durame, Spencer and I were eating breakfast and talking about what kinds of things we want to do at our school, beyond our primary project of direct teaching. We were making plans and bouncing ideas off each other. It was exciting to think about what kinds of activities we could do, but I was still sad. I told Spencer this and he agreed. Then he started talking about how lucky we were just have the training at all and how lucky we are to have such amazing people sharing this experience with us all over Ethiopia. Leave it to Spencer to think of the bright side.  He was right and it helped me some, but I was still a bit down.

We left breakfast and headed to the bus station. When we found our bus to Durame and boarded a guy at the front asked me, “Kambatgnyayichallal?” Which is Amharic for “Can you speak Kambatissa?” (the local language in our town). I replied by greeting him in Kambatissa, and the whole bus erupted in whoops and cheers. In that moment, I felt love. I felt all the welcoming handshakes and invites to coffee we get in town. I felt the pride that the Kambatissa people have concerning their language and culture. I felt all the kindness coworkers, students, and neighbors have shown to me and Spencer over the past three months. All the negativity vanished. We were going home.

Sunrise on the Road

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