Looking Forward

It’s been more than two years since I received my invitation to become a Peace Corps volunteer in Tonga.  That invitation had the date I would begin.   Another big date was the day I announced  I was leaving my company after 15 years, Having specific dates made those decisions seem final..

Now, with less than  five months left to go,  I have another date.  That’s the date when I’ll be leaving Tonga and wrapping up my volunteer service in the Peace Corps.   That will happen on Thursday, November 26, 2009,.  It now seems very final.

Officially, my group wraps up our service on December 12, 2009, exactly two years after our swearing in ceremony.  This means I am leaving 16 days early.  However under Peace Corps rules, volunteers can leave anytime during our last 30 days with the permission of the Country Director.  I have now received that permission.  Others in my group will start leaving November 13th

In my case, leaving a little early will allow me to meet a friend in South Africa.   I’ll be flying out the morning of November 26th to Sydney and then on to Hoedspruit, South Africa and the Kruger National Park.  From South Africa, I’ll head home to West Palm Beach.   When I get back, I will have flown all the way around the globe.

At various times during my Peace Corps experience I’ve thought about extending my service or even signing up for another stint in a different country.  However, as much as I’ve enjoyed my experience here I’ve realized that the best thing for me right now is to get some “USA Time”.  I would like to continue with Peace Corps in some capacity and will be exploring that option as the time for my COS or “close of service” get nearer.

So while I’ve got a final date, I’ve also got a lot of things left to do.   I just started work this week on a video project for the Tonga Development Bank.   The bank plans to air the video on local TV and also use it to promote the bank at workshops in the future.

I’ve also got several new clients with whom I’m working and it happens to be tax time in Tonga, which means I’ll be helping a bunch of people with their taxes.  I never would have guessed I would be giving tax advice in Tonga.

I’ve still got some vacation time left and am hoping to make one more big trip before I leave even though I haven’t decided yet where to go.   And in September, I’ll be flying to the main island of Tongatapu for my COS conference, which will be the last time that the members of my training group will all be together.  (There will soon just be 19 of us remaining out of  the 33 who started. Two more volunteers from Tongatapu are leaving on Tuesday).

So the adventure isn’t over, but the end is near.   I’m very thankful  for the experiences I’ve had and  while I didn’t plan it this way, it seems appropriate that  my last day in Tonga, Thursday November 26th, is Thanksgiving Day.

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