When I got back to Ethiopia after spending several weeks in America and Istanbul, I could not stop crying. I cried on each plane. I cried each night. And to be honest, it felt like the world was collapsing around me.
It was obvious to me: I wasn’t ready to come back to Ethiopia.
Yet I knew I had to. Knew that I’d regret it if I gave up. Knew that although this year may not be the most amazing, productive year of my life, knew that not being here and giving it a fair shot.
Those first few days were really hard. The following week a little difficult, but still hard. It gets easier to be back as time passes, but I’m still not completely there yet.
Every Peace Corps volunteer who has had the luxury of going home during their service will tell you that there is a cost associated with returning home. Emotionally, mentally or even physically. The differences between host country and America become starker. You realize how lucky and blessed you are to have been born in a country with so much freedom and wealth. You realize that we really do have a responsibility to those less fortunate, even if we all disagree about what that responsibility looks like.
But then there is coming back to my home here in Ethiopia. My first night back my compound family invited me in for “drinking coffee,” but really dinner—my first Ethiopian food in almost a month—plus a couple beers and coffee. My landlord’s father was over and all the neighborhood ladies bustled in, as they always do… but instead of just a wave and a “Are you fine?” I received lots of kisses. Questions about my family. My boyfriend. Is it hot in America? Of course it’s very cold, Ethiopia has better weather. Was it windy? Oh, yes, snow!
It felt warm. Homey. I realized that even though I wasn’t entirely at peace with being back in Ethiopia, it really felt like where I belonged. At that moment, all was right in the world.