peace (corps), love, and Rwanda

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From the moment the BIG BLUE packet arrived on my front doorstep next to the milk box, I’ve been somewhere between a reflective, grateful, contemplative young woman to a girl who is running around like a chicken with their head cut off.

I think they are both natural responses to a BIG life change. How big? RWANDA big.

Finally, after almost a year (to the day) of waiting, I found out that I was in the Peace Corps. I would be leaving in September, and I would be teaching.

That was enough for about the first 2 hours upon finding out.

Then. it started.

What do I do next?

What forms do I have to turn in?

Do I need a passport?

When should I buy stuff that I need?

What all do I need to take?

Is teaching really right for me?

Am I going to do a good job?

Will I be able to communicate with my friends and family?

Where in Rwanda will I live?

Will I be safe?

You get the idea. The thing is, I ‘ve thought about all of these things before. 1 year in the PC application process will do that to you. But. Now, I have this letter. And it’s like “Congratulations! You are invited to begin training in Rwanda!” I guess that’s what they mean when they say it just got real.

I went backpacking with my mom and Randy this last weekend and I thought a lot about this opportunity. There were moments that I laid in the hammock wondering how my life got to this point…and I just smiled. And the answer is basically, I don’t know. But I’m glad, and grateful. So so grateful. I can’t even begin to imagine what this experience will be like, but I’m so thankful that I get a chance to do it, that I have this opportunity to pursue something I am so dearly passionate for.

What is right, is right. What will be, will be. This is something that it took me 4 years to learn in college, and I’m still learning it. But, I am believing it more and more. That’s what this is. Somehow, in all of the madness that this process brought, ultimately, it worked out. God’s hand was in this.

So, now I am moving forward appreciatively and a little crazily, but certainly very productively. To date, I have submitted my US passport to get approved for a special Peace Corps passport, I have submitted my aspiration statement and updated resume to PC, I have formally accepted the position (writing that email was probably one of the most insane/cool emails I have ever written), I have finished the paperwork for the media relations office, I have started this blog, I have read the Volunteer handbook, I have ordered a Kinyarwanda dictionary, and I am voraciously everything I can read about Rwanda. I am doing really well in this preparation process. Maybe as well as could be expected? I am working through the financial issues (banks, loans, etc.) but that too is getting worked out.

This is a special period in my life, I think. So, I’m going to do my best to enjoy it. The month of August will be one of the best…I don’t even doubt it. Michelle is coming to visit Colorado, I am going to Disney World with Rachel, I am helping Rachel move into her grad-school apartment in Murfreesboro, I am going to Michelle’s wedding in Moscow, TN, seeing all my friends (reunion!), and then hanging out at Hendrix for a week, capped off with seeing the first Hendrix field hockey game of the season. Indeed, it’s a special time in my life right now. I will come home from this trip and have ONE WEEK to get my things together, spend time with my family, and prepare to close the door on this part of my life for awhile.

Yet, a new one is opening, and goodness, I can just feel the excitement inside of me.

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About Heather Michelle Newell

Hi! I'm Heather. I am a writer and counselor in-training. I share stories so we can all learn about one another. I spend a great deal of time laughing loudly, going on adventures with my grandmother, walking amidst the beautiful Colorado mountains, and spending time with my fiancee, friends, and family. A Colorado native, I love dark-roasted coffee, sunshine, and getting up early before the rest of the world beats me too it. I am an ENFP, so brace yourself for all the passion, all the enthusiasm, all the possibility.

3 responses »

  1. Heather,
    You are an amazing young lady and we are so proud of you! You are truly doing your part to make this world a better place. While we will miss you tremendously, we know how important it is to follow your dreams and passions. Rwanda is lucky to have you! We will keep in touch and think and pray for you often. We look forward to hearing and reading about your adventures. Enjoy this time.
    We love you so much! Aunt Gina, Uncle Heath,Jordan and Spencer

    P.S. I would still love to connect your students and my students in some way.

  2. Heather,

    You are a wonderful, loving person (and daughter) and I can’t be more proud of you!!! I will miss you very much but definitely look forward to visiting you in beautiful Rwanda!! I love you SO much and will pray for you every day!! I know you will make a difference in the lives of many Rwandan people!!
    Love, Mom

  3. Heather! There is no doubt that you’re doing the right thing by going to Rwanda. God has had His hand in all of this and if He had not, your Mom and I would be very afraid of this adventure. But, not so. We know this experience is from Him to do His good work in a very big world one little kid at a time! You will bless everyone you meet and they may bless you more. I love you and am very proud of you! You make all of us very proud! Randy

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