Confessions of a Pechichona

By Stephanie Sheffield Stephanie_article_photo

I remember last year talking to two PCVs from CII-4 who told me, “Time in Peace Corps is so weird… the first year, you are observing and beginning projects, and then your second year, you are closing up shop and making sure things are ready for when you leave. Where’s the middle?”

I didn’t realize that COS was coming so soon until people started asking me when I was leaving and what my plans are post-Peace Corps. My host family, friends at church, my counterparts and fellow PCVs have all started to direct questions and discussions towards life post-Peace Corps. Where did the time go? When did I stop counting how many months I’ve been here, and instead start counting how many months are left? Have I made a difference?

It’s crazy to think in seven short months it will all be over. I have been coming to terms with the fact that I have pre-departure anxiety. Being the (secret) pechichona that I am, I get attached to people very quickly. Months before arriving to Colombia, I would have random spurts of emotional moments where I would think about all of the things and people that I would miss when I left the States. Those feelings have now returned, but this time I’m anxious about leaving Colombia behind.

Thinking about leaving my host family, my school, my church community, my neighborhood, my special group of Santa Marta PCVs that are now family, makes my eyes water. How I’ll miss walking through the dirt roads to church to practice yoga with my priest, arriving to school each morning to be greeted with hugs from students, waking up early on Saturdays to dance champeta in my living room with my two young host sisters, and everything else that has been apart of this wild Peace Corps ride!

Luckily, from my previous experiences with my pre-departure anxiety, I’ve found that it is like taking off a band-aid—the moment before you take it off, you’re scared it’s going to hurt, and for the weak of heart (like myself) you will cry and cry before it’s even time to remove it. Then, once it rips off, you realize you’re going to be ok and you begin to heal. I’m sure that will happen again this time, and once my watery eyes dry, I find myself smiling and thinking of all the exciting things my future holds.

But, ‘til I COS, I will be anxiously waiting for that band-aid to be ripped off.

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