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New Blooms

April 20, 2014

Medusa Tree2

So much has happened since February. Phone calls, emails, and so so much work. Some things are withering while others, when least expected, are bursting into bloom.

My plans for next year are again uncertain, but it looks like I have another year in Liberia. And that’s ok. Because work continues. Steady pruning only makes dreams come back bigger and stronger. Or at least that’s what I tell myself…

But sometimes big dreams do come true. A few weeks ago two of my students from Sanniquellie won full scholarships to study in America. It’s almost too good to be true! One will study Natural Resource Management and one will study Secondary Education. Just like the two in Costa Rica they are expected to return to Liberia when they finish and work hard to improve the country.

I know they will.

I also know it will be really hard. We’re talking about young men who have barely been to the “big city” Monrovia and now they’re going to attend a major public university in America. Thank god they will have each other for support! Everything will be so… strange.

They were here last week on their way to get travel documents and I sat them down in front of my DSTV. “It’s time you learned about America. There is a lot I’ve tried to keep from you.” Then I put on Jersylicious.

School starts in late August and they are tentatively scheduled to leave three weeks before that. I am planning a vacation around that time and I would love to fly with them. Oh to see their faces on the airplane! I think I will be the one crying.

It’s such a long road. Each of them applied for three or four scholarships before getting this one and for the four students I’ve successfully sent abroad we’ve had close to 200 rejections. My phone rings incessantly with students crying “why not me” and asking for money like I have a magic wand.

It’s not easy, kids.

I keep thinking about a tearful conversation Krista and I had our first year in Sanniquellie. Things were bad at school and Peace Corps told us it wasn’t our place to get involved. It was so unfair and we felt completely powerless. Everyone needed help and everyone deserved help and our ability to do anything was so… small.

But just because I can’t solve the problem doesn’t have to stop me from doing what I can. It just breaks my heart every single day. It takes all my energy to focus and narrow my vision on the people I can help and the things I can do. Some things are out of my control and I have to let them go—excellent students who are one year too old for a scholarship, girls who can’t leave children and husbands—but how do you make them understand?

I’ve had to stop answering my phone… because I have another life at Cuttington.

I went from teaching six credit hours last semester to teaching fifteen now. And soil science is looking like peanuts. I’m still doing that, but I’m also teaching agricultural economics, entrepreneurship and microfinance, and co-teaching rural sociology, gender, and culture with one of my Liberian colleagues.

Are you laughing? I wouldn’t blame you.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading.

My pet project is a tutoring program. I have thirteen volunteer tutors who staff a drop-in center throughout the week and I’m really proud of our progress in just three weeks. Unfortunately, last week my boss told me they’re taking away our room because a new secretary needs an office.

Do what you can. Find a way to let go of what you can’t. (Even if it means finding a private place to have a primal scream.)


Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


One Comment leave one →
  1. blondie permalink
    April 20, 2014 8:27 pm

    Very happy for you and your students ❤ I hope this helps pave the way for more to be accepted in the future!

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