It has been a while since I have posted here and wanted to share some empowering feelings I gained this past week.
Over the course of the week I had the opportunity to attend the RPCV Career Conference. While this conference is really designed to help us re-enter America and navigate the job market as RPCVs I gained something so much more.
Since coming home I have battled with my identity as an RPCV. I left my service early and suddenly, I feel I didn't accomplish all I had set out to accomplish, I didn't leave my village or return to America with any sort of pomp and circumstance or celebration, I honestly felt I wasn't apart of the returned volunteer community.
This week, for the first time since signing my COS papers in the Maputo office in Mozambique, I actually identified myself as an RPCV. Being around others who have varying stories of their service from great successes to struggling the whole time to being evacuated after being in country for only 5 months, everyone considered themselves an RPVC so I began to see myself as part of the community. Nobody in that conference cared that I left or why I left, they cared that I went at all and could understand where they had been. I became apart of one of the most important non-blood relation families I could ever be included in. I became an RPCV this week. I gained a family of people who understand the true pain I had with my struggles, the true joy I had with my work, the sadness I still feel when I see the pictures of my girls on my Facebook, the fact that part of my heart is gone forever and I'll always wonder "what if I stayed." I joined a family of people who know the struggles of "I learned so much, but that's not a marketable skill" and the joys of "One of my girls just emailed me, she turned down a marriage arrangement and is going to university!"
I am owning it. I am an RPCV. Whether I stayed a month, a year, 5 years, I got on that plane to go serve and that will forever give me this "badge" of honor.
It was so empowering to be around my "family" this week. We walk the streets and we don't have a uniform or a patch or any indication of where we went and what we did for our country and the countries we served. But we know what it takes and what it means, and we have each other to congratulate and support.
I am finally proud to call myself an RPCV and empowered to live a life that fulfills the passion for service RPCVs carry in our hearts.