It’s Not Goodbye, It’s Just See You Later

August 5, 2015 | Alex, DVM, WUSC, Botswana, Stepping Stones International

Well this is a blog that I knew all along that I would have to write, but not one I ever pictured myself writing. Our time in Mochudi is drawing ever closer to its end, and I have to say, it’s an unbelievably bitter-sweet feeling. On the one hand, I am looking forward to seeing friends and family for the first time in three months. But on the other, I’m leaving behind what I have felt to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. That may seem like an exaggeration to some who may think that this was simply a three month internship and not something that I should be getting overly sentimental about, but Stepping Stones and Mochudi have been an integral part of my life for the past few months. It’s definitely not going to be easy to walk away.

I don’t want to make this a thank you letter by any means, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much the people that I have met while I have been here have been a crucial part of why I have felt so at home. Whether it’s the staff or other volunteers, all who I have seen trying to make whatever small difference they can and who have all been as welcoming as they have been. Stepping Stones has felt like a tight knit community in that sense. Everyone has had open arms from day one, and they’re all going to be missed dearly.

The work itself, as I’ve mentioned before has been incredibly rewarding. Not only that, but the work has been just that – work. Lisa has been incredible in the sense that she trusted us from the beginning to take on major roles within the organization.  It has led to positions like the one that I currently occupy (which would normally be occupied by a staff member) being held by a short term intern from Canada who, for all they knew, could have been completely useless (which, I hope I wasn’t). Sure this will be something that I can put on my resume, and that’s great, but at the same time it was so much more than that. It was something that I can use as life experience as well. Learning to roll with the punches, and come in with even fewer expectations than I had for my time here. It also led to my realization that this is the sort of thing that I want to do for the rest of my life. Maybe I’m just speaking in the moment and these feelings will change over time, but for now, it’s something that couldn’t be truer.

Now this isn’t all to say that I haven’t learned some lessons the hard way while being in Botswana. For example, our patience has been tested here more than it ever could have back home. They don’t call it “African time” for nothing. There’s been long waits and things that haven’t gone exactly according to plan, but we’ve persevered and made it through the whole experience, in my opinion, for the better.

In all, the best way I can sum all of my feelings up is to say that the one thing that has been reiterated to me while in Mochudi is that you need to love fast and openly with as many people as you can. I know, it feels like I’m typing that for Hallmark just as much as you feel like you’re reading something from Hallmark. But it’s true. And I hope it’s something that I can carry on for the rest of my life.

So I tried not to make this last blog post overly sentimental, as much as it may seem like I did just the opposite, but this is how I feel right before I leave. I’m going to miss so many things about Mochudi and Stepping Stones. The people, the relaxed nature of the town, the work that is being done here, and the overall atmosphere that surrounds the entire village are all things that I don’t think will be replicated exactly, wherever I go. Hopefully I’ll be back someday in the near future. But for now, I’m going to miss this place more than words could ever describe.

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