Extension is hard. I think I've said that a lot, so I'll move past it. But it has been a blessing...I was not in a good place to end my service in December, and these extra few months have given me a chance to wrap things up on my own terms. Which I can't be thankful for enough.
That being said, finishing your dream service is hard. Ideally, we are to hand our projects over to host country nationals, other volunteers, etc, and let them take the reigns. It's an entirely thankless job, because, when the project works, they get all the credit. It's like working the rigging backstage. Peter pan isn't going to fly without you, but no one really knows who you are. You're the idea man, the logistics man, you put down the tracks and let them take the ride.
Since December, it's become clear to me how successful I've been in transferring skills - specifically to my counterparts and to my kids. I hardly teach anymore, letting my counterparts take charge and I'm just there for support. My kids start to suggest games to play in club, and have even gone so far as to show up early and just start their own thing. My sitemates - whose organizations wouldn't have hosted them had it not been for Bailey and I - are doing their own projects, and making their own plans for the future. Plans with my kids, that I won't be around for.
It's hard watching yourself become irrelevant.
I've certainly learned a lot about givng with no expectation of return. But on the flip side, you do need to protect yourself. It's easy to confuse someone who is truly in need of your help with someone who is taking advantage of you. At some point, the best help you can give to them is helping them find their independence. But what if they don't ever want that responsibility? How do you draw the line between being generous and standing up for your dignity?
And I'm struggling with thinking about my four months left. I already almost cry when I think about taking that final bus ride away from Balakan. And as excited as I am to spend a month just lying around in Dubai, and as psyched as I am for graduate school, I know I've changed - a lot. For good and for bad. There are things that I see in myself that I have gained in the past year that I am so proud of. And there are things I see I've developed that I just want to purge from my character.
There are two projects left. Preparing the people I love here for a life without my help, and preparing myself for the next step in my life.