Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reflections from East Aurora, NY

Our final days in Sierra Leone were spent in Freetown, soaking up sun on the beautiful beaches, and eating our first pizza after many months of cassava leaves. I maintain my initial opinion of Freetown (formed during my first two days in the country)- it is crowded, noisy, and for the most part quite scary. I miss the stillness and warmth of Gobaru.

I am putting the pieces of my life back together now- going back to where I started and weaving the memories into the tapestry of my new self. I hover between two worlds; an old world, in which, when I press a light switch, there is light, when I swipe plastic, there is money, when I open my computer, there is a wireless network available from every angle. When I wake with the dawn, there are no chickens or Moniatu to greet me, but the cold wooden floorboards on my bare feet, and the smell of my mothers' folgers brewing in the kitchen. The house is silent. I am left alone in my thoughts.

I am so thankful for every second of this experience, and to those without whom it would not have been possible- Mr. and Mrs. Weissman and the Weissman Foundation staff, the Davis Foundation, the Harvard College Sierra Leone Initiative, Saving Lives through Alternative Options, dosomething.org, the Sengeh family, and of course, my own family! If I have learned anything through this experience, it is the importance of reaching out and supporting each other- that we cannot stand unless we have others to lean on.

One of my students called yesterday, and it was like a thick reality infiltrating this East Aurora dream in which I have been living for the past two weeks. I am left speechless, searching for words that will bridge the distances which now divide us. The only resolution I find within myself is that, while this may have been my first time in Gobaru, it will not be my last. And this is the only certainty which remains.