Farewell, Mongolia!

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” –John Lennon

I have left Mongolia. I am in beautiful Eugene, Oregon, having been medically separated from Peace Corps. During my time in Mongolia, I experienced upper respiratory infections fairly continually. The medical officer tried everything she could think of to help me recover permanently, but to no avail. I was evacuated to Bangkok and received very good care from the doctor there. After looking at the results of the tests he ordered, he concluded that I was probably suffering from a sensitivity to something in the environment in Mongolia, and recommended I not return.

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Mynah, a new bird friend in Bangkok

I expected there to be challenges during my time in the Peace Corps. But being very healthy normally, I didn’t expect any ongoing health issues that would interfere so much and for so long with my life there. Being sick most of the time took its toll. My energy was low and I often felt overwhelmed by the smallest inconveniences. As I would feel better, I would think I was about to hit my stride and be really productive, only to relapse.

I remember last year at this time. My group was in the last weeks of training, and we were all excited as we approached swearing in, wondering where we would be placed for our two years. I remember being surprised at the dramatic shift in the weather toward winter after August 1. As I sit here in the heat of a Eugene August, I am reading Facebook posts of my cohorts and friends still in Mongolia. They are reporting 40- and 50-degree weather in some areas, and snow in Arkhangai. Some in the capital are lamenting not wearing tights today, and wishing they’d brought a sweater with them. Summer in Mongolia is very short.

I am glad for the year I spent in Mongolia. I learned a lot there, both about myself, and about Mongolia and Mongolians. I feel I have changed, and that I have a bigger view of the world. There were many people there, both Mongolian and foreign, who made my life forever richer. I come away from this experience with humility and gratitude.

Although I am finished in Mongolia, I am not finished with Peace Corps. I am looking forward to serving in a different country. There are medical hoops to jump through, so that I can be cleared to continue serving. I am hoping to be reassigned in the next 6 months. Thank you to all of you who have followed this blog. I intend to continue writing here as new adventures unfold.

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7 thoughts on “Farewell, Mongolia!

  1. I am sorry to hear about your change but I am also sure it will be better for you. We are constantly under stress living in the extraordinary conditions and with people who do not have the same expectations and customs. Thankfully we have to listen to our bodies and do what is best. Certainly there is real sadness in leaving the PC early and I do hope you can continue to serve elsewhere too. But it does change us and in ways that are not apparent for months or years.

    My husband and I are in Korea for the next 5 weeks both attending 3 conferences as well as a couple weeks of vacation. My daughter has lost three pregnancies and will try again after a rest. Am I glad I listened to my insides and returned when I did. I would have missed too much and lost too much. Maybe I can do the PC in a few years again when this phase has passed.

    Kathleen, good luck and take care of yourself. Please keep in contact…..Bonnie

  2. Hi Kathers, I’m glad you are back stateside! I know you are longing for your next adventure, and that is good, but after all you went through I am glad you are back here for a bit!

  3. Well, welcome back to Eugene! Enjoy your time here as you prepare for new adventures abroad. No matter how easy or difficult our experiences are wherever we may be, we always have something to learn from them. So, no regrets, but new things learned, and really that’s what life is all about, isn’t it. I’d love to meet for tea sometime and hear about your adventures.

  4. So glad to have you back in Eugene for whatever time the currents of your life have you here. I am a bit richer and wiser in life experience through what you have experienced, endured, and shared, both before Peace Corp, through the hardships, ups and downs, and chronic challenges of a long hard year as a PCV in Mongolia, and now on this new threshold as the tides carry you forward. Excited for this time for you, that your health has returned, that you can enjoy a place you love and call home for a time, and also in a wonderful season. Your gratitude is echoed.

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