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The Next Chapter

August 11, 2013


It has been an extremely busy few months (as you will guess from my lack of posts.)  I have officially moved out of Sanniquellie and I have officially closed my Peace Corps service.

But I’m still here.

When I joined Peace Corps everyone asked what I was going to do when I finished, which always struck me as a ridiculous question to ask on the threshold of a two-year life changing experience.  I usually smiled, however, and said simply, “My plan is not to have a plan.  When the time comes an opportunity will present itself and I’ll know what to do.”

Well the right opportunity has presented itself and I’m staying in Liberia.  (That part has never really been a question.  I think most of you can tell I’ve found my life’s work here.)  I’ve signed a one-year contract to teach at Cuttington University in Gbarnga under the Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) project, a joint venture between RTI and US AID.  This is all a really complicated way of saying that I’ll be teaching agriculture and computer classes as well as running a resource room and career center.  It’s a big change… but not really.  My mission has always been to give people the preparation they need for the opportunities they deserve.  That remains the same.

My heart will always be at Central High in Sanniquellie, but there is a lot of good I can continue doing here.  And what I keep telling myself is that just because one chapter closes doesn’t mean the narrative loses all its characters.  The salary boost I experienced will allow me to bring my best math student to study at Cuttington.  We’ve been chasing scholarships all year and the stars refuse to align so I’m making my own.  Congratulations, you’re the inaugural winner of the “Ms. RB Scholarship for Excellence and Perseverance”!  He’ll be my third son.  I desperately want some daughters, but none of them passed in the WAEC (more on that heart breaking tragedy later).

Sorry, I never announced my second son here because I was so busy… My student Newton is going to EARTH University in Costa Rica!  He’ll join Festus who went last year.  The same as Festus, Newton was the only student admitted from Liberia this year.  The only word I have for it is unbelievable.  He was the one I wanted and the one I had been praying about for months.  We sat on my porch one evening last fall and I started grilling him with personal questions (like I do with all my scholarship students).  He shrank away when I asked his age, “It’s shameful.  I should be at college by now.  My sister is there.”  I pressed on and got it out of him.  “You know,” I said, “everything happens for a reason.  If you were at university you wouldn’t know me and we wouldn’t be sitting here right now.  Something good is going to happen for you.  Just wait.  We’re going to fight for it.”

I don’t know if he believed it, but I did.  So much so that I sent him to Monrovia to apply for a passport before we’d finished a single application.  He leaves at the end of the month.

The past two years have often been frustrating and uncomfortable.  What has kept me going, however, is all the hope, hope that hard work can turn life’s pain, suffering, and bitterness into opportunity.  I am humbled to have been a witness to the remarkable young people of Sanniquellie Central High.  I am equally humbled to find myself on the receiving end of opportunity.

It rarely looks like it at the beginning (and even less so in the middle), but in the end it does, in fact, all work out.  Just keep moving forward, friends.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Robert Dahl permalink
    August 11, 2013 11:10 pm


  2. George Vance permalink
    August 12, 2013 9:42 am

    Carry on. I left over 50 years ago. best of luck!

  3. Cathy Callaway permalink
    August 12, 2013 3:43 pm

    Congratulations, Rebecca! No surprise to those of us who have been following your posts: you have found your calling in Liberia. The Museum misses you, though!
    Cathy Callaway

  4. suzanne permalink
    August 12, 2013 8:52 pm

    A student of mine this summer term said her uncle is president of Cuttington University! File that information under “it’s a small world!”

    Best wishes in your coming year!

  5. Aunt patty permalink
    August 13, 2013 1:45 am

    We rejoice with you over all of your sons as well as the many more to come! Keep pressing on. We love you.

    Aunt Patty

  6. Julie Simpson permalink
    August 17, 2013 5:12 pm

    congratulations on your new job. sounds like you are doing some amazing work there. Someday I will get back there and come for a visit.

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