Babies on backs, bright fabric swaying in time to the beat of breaking millet.
Hot sweat dripping down hard work in liquid form.
Laughter and language not known but understood to mean friendship in a metal and thread chair, shaded dirt beneath the posts.
Small ones playing with boxes on a string, pulling along a childhood dirty, raw, sad, and beautiful.
Shouts of joy turn into pain as laughter is substituted with tears in the stroke of a hand or the naked branch of a tree that once provided shade to a metal and thread chair.
Sweat mango juice dripping down dirty faces, a stream of happiness and mud, life in liquid form.
Stretched out arms to give mangoes, friendship, peanuts, acceptance, hot corn, hugs around knees.
Aw be yen, N be yan, nga An be taama nyogonfe tumabee.
You are there, I am here, but we walk together always.
If you can’t tell, I miss Mali. I’ve been talking with my fellow Team Leaders here in Vinton, Iowa and reliving some of my experiences in Peace Corps, so a lot of things I haven’t been thinking of often get brought to the forefront. I need to make a plan to go back to Mali in the future, hopefully within the next 5 or so years. It is just such a special place full of amazing people. Please keep up all your positive thoughts and/or prayers for the people of Mali as they continue to face an incredible amount of challenges to their health, well-being, and safety.
I hope you all have been enjoying this hot summer and have been able to get to the pool or beach often. Believe it or not, Vinton Iowa has a kick butt community pool complete with a waterslide. It is a little oasis in a sea of corn. Some Team Leaders and I plan to go there tomorrow if the weather is nice.
I have been in Vinton since July 23rd and everything is going really well so far. The AmeriCorps NCCC staff at Vinton is really great (almost as awesome as Perry Point staff), and I feel well taken care of and that I will be prepared as best as possible to be successful when I get my team. Our Corps Members come to Vinton around July 27th and then real life will begin. We are enjoying our time with just us Team Leaders before the craziness ensues. I can still remember my first day at Perry Point in AmeriCorps NCCC Class 16 and how excited/nervous/scared I was. I remember Dave Beach with his Harry Potter wand talking to us while we did in-processing paperwork, ate sandwiches, and began the foundations of friendships to come. What a start to an amazing adventure that was. I only hope that the Corps Members of this class will have as great of an experience as I did in NCCC. The program is what you make it, and if you are determined to put in hard work, be open to growing as a person, and not give up, those are the ingredients to a beautiful AmeriCorps experience.
I will keep you all updated on how life as an AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps Team Leader (our official title) goes. I am excited for this journey and appreciate all of your support. I am lucky to have so many people in my life that are happy for me and are supportive of me following my dreams.
Congratulations to my awesome sister Marni and her husband Josh who welcomed my nephew Jackson Carter Clay into the world on July 25th. I can’t wait to meet the little nugget, and hopefully in just a few weeks I’ll be able to hold him in my arms for the first time!
Take care and thanks for checking out what’s new in my life!