the interim / peace corps global evacuation + a reflection on my service

I had the thought a week before my in-service training that I should post some photos on my website. “Eh, whatever, how much can change in a week?” I thought. Well, I’ve found the answer to that question.

Last Friday, after a wonderful few days in Marrakech reuniting with friends and treating ourselves to the international food scene, our training was cut short and we were sent to our sites to “stand fast” (remain at home) until further notice. From there, things escalated quickly. By Sunday night we were given the official evacuation notice for Peace Corps Morocco, followed by a global evacuation announcement. On Monday morning I left my site with most of my belongings (to be honest I was in denial, but I brought everything I need). Monday night I arrived in Rabat to be group quarantined with all other PCVs at a hotel. By Thursday morning I was home in Massachusetts. Friday was my 25th birthday, spent in self-quarantine with my parents. It was also the day we were told all volunteers would be COSing (closing out service), instead of remaining on administrative hold like originally planned. We have the possibility of reinstatement in the future, but it is much less certain and as we’ve seen, nothing is guaranteed.

Hank Green made a video recently on the sudden obliteration of expectation, and ventured to find an exact word for the feeling: wuthering, atmospheric tumult, lost possible selves, unfathoming, and future shock were a few mentioned in the video and its comments. Whatever it is, it’s the feeling that I am grappling with, along with my fellow volunteers and the rest of the world.

I hope to give more details and tell more stories from my service in the future. In all honesty, I’m still holding out hope that my service is not over, though I know that regardless of the future of the Peace Corps, these past seven months have been something unique and special that will not be replicated in future service.

For the time being, I’d like to borrow the words of other volunteers, as I’ve leaned on them so many times in this past half-year:

Until March 20, 2020, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Afla N’Draa, Morocco. I came to Morocco with many hopes. I came with a desire to serve and to learn. Some of these hopes and desires leave with me unfulfilled. Today, unplanned and unrequested, I close my service. I grieve the loss of time with my community. I grieve the plans not completed. I grieve the sudden goodbye. I celebrate the work I have done and tried to do. I celebrate lessons learned. I am grateful for the help given to me. I am grateful for friendship. I celebrate challenges overcome, today not the least of them. I have honored my commitment to serve. Today, I grieve deeply and celebrate gratefully. I open myself to sharing the beauty and the pain of this experience. I thank my fellow PCVs and Staff. Today, I close my service.

Thank you for reading. Stay safe and healthy.


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