The Letter R

This is not my last message from Ghana. It is, however, my last message as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I moved out of my house on Saturday morning, and said goodbye to Seikwa for who knows how long. I left saddened, but satisfied. I know that in some small way, I left the place better than I found it. My students were better off for my having been there, as was the school and, to a lesser extent, the community. And now, I’m in Accra, going through the Close-of-Service Process.

Accra is — as it always has been — surreal. I took a tro-tro to the office this morning, and was passed by at least 3 BMVs on the way. It is a harbinger, of sorts — it’s as close to America as I can get at the moment, and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. It’ll grow on me in time, I suppose, but I’ll never again look at a used car or a bathtub the same way ever again.

My Close of Service has gone as smoothly as I could expect it to go. My bags are packed. My paperwork is in order. All I’m waiting for is one last interview and some signatures tomorrow, and I’ll be a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.


There’s a lot of significance in that letter R. It means that despite the frustrations, the low points, the longing for home, the illnesses, the delays, and everything else that seems to work in consort to make you give up, I was successful. That letter R is a testament to my service. That R means I am a full-fledged dirty hippie. That R symbolizes my commitment to my work, and my desire to have a positive impact on the world. That R is my entire service boiled down to one
letter, one word: Returned.

It also means that my service is never over. As I’ve said before, I’ll spend the rest of my life committed to sharing Ghana with other Americans. I’ll spend the rest of my life searching for banku and making waakye for people, and talking to classrooms full of students who, like me, will some day hopefully wonder what they can do to make the world a better place.

I will spend the rest of my life remembering this experience, and recounting it time and time again to anyone who will do me the kindness of listening. I will spend countless words describing what I saw, what I did, and how it affected me. Right now, I’m savoring that R.

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I'm just this guy, you know?