I once heard a story about two nomads who left the same town:

When the first arrived in a new place he asked a stranger, “What are the people like here?”

“Well”, the stranger responded, “What were they like where you came from?”
“They were hateful, greedy, rude, and impolite. That’s why I decided to leave.
“Well,” said the stranger, “They are the same here.”
“Alright, I’ll continue looking for a perfect place.” Said the nomad.

Shortly thereafter, the second nomad arrived and came across the same stranger.
“What are people like here?” he asked.
The stranger asked again, “What are the people like where you came from?”
“They were loving, kind, welcoming, and gracious.”
“Well,” the stranger responded again, “They are the same here.”

This was shared with me the day before I would leave the United States for the first time. It was the example the Peace Corps provided to prepare volunteers for service in places we eventually call home.
The work goal I created six months ago.

Getting to that point is not easy, however. The Peace Corps was actually one of the most challenging adventures I have experienced thus far, especially at the end. It was during the last three months in Togo that I really began to doubt my impact and wonder if anything I did made a difference.

Leaving my job this week brought back many of the same feelings. In the months prior, as I started to phase myself out, I felt like my place had been insignificant. I thought that memories of my year here would easily be overwritten in my co-workers’ minds. Yet, I was not upset by this; it just meant I could continue on in search of my perfect home.

What a mistake. I forgot to reflect on how the year impacted me. I could speculate the feelings of others until the end of time but the only things I could be sure of are the experiences that I felt

So many of them came back today. Each goodbye gave me a moment to reflect on some positive experience I shared with the person looking back at me. Eventually, I was brought to tears and by my 5 a.m. departure, I struggled through sobs. I am glad hugs are a universal language.

This year was a good one. Challenging at times, yes, but I would repeat it in a heart beat. I have a new place to call home and this is quite comforting given my current state of "homelessness" until France. 

I left a place filled with loving, kind, welcoming and gracious people. At least I know that wherever I go, the people will be the same there.

Part of the loving, kind, gracious and welcoming team.