Packing your life into two suitcases and moving across the world to an unknown life is tough. I knew that it would be when I applied.
(The hardest job you’ll ever love is what they say.)
I didn’t realize though, how hard goodbyes would be.
They talk about missing home, about new cultural norms, new food, and all the other factors of adjustment and integration. But then a year into service, the previous group of volunteers heads for home. They don’t tell you about sending home a group of friends week by week and all the goodbyes you have to say.
When a volunteer finishes their service, we call it COS, close of service.
I’ve been saying goodbye to COSing friends since August, which has been no picnic. This month we also had to say goodbye to one of our real gems, our Country Director, Corey.
I often tell people that getting placed in Macedonia is like hitting the jackpot. Corey is a huge part of that.
From the first day we met her in PST, we knew she was a positive force to be reckoned with. She has done and seen more in her life so far than many could do with several lifetimes.
Peace Corps Macedonia won’t be the same without her.
When she announced her departure, the planning to send her off in style began almost immediately.
True to character, she opened up her home to as many volunteers that could attend a sendoff party, hosting more than 60 of us for an amazing afternoon of food, laughter, several rounds of tears, and of course rakija and oro.
We had a number of gifts for her: a mug covered in photos of her time here (because every COSing volunteer gets a Peace Corps mug), a customized wooden bottle of rakija, carved by workers at one of our volunteer’s organizations, a book of letters and notes from volunteers, and a video compilation of messages – including a farewell parody of Love, Actually, aptly titled Corey, Actually.
(To us, she is perfect.)
The day was over much too quickly, but no one left without a personal word and a big hug from Corey. (Little does she know that as soon as we get back to America, we’re all stopping by for dinner at her place.)
I hate all the goodbyes, but I know I’m lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life here who make the goodbyes so hard.
I just hope our next country director is a hugger.