Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why we've decided to ET (Early Terminate our Peace Corps Service)

This is a hard post for me to write. It's hard to talk about why you've decided to quit the Peace Corps, and not finish the full commitment of 2 years and 3 months. Talking about ETing seems like such a taboo in Peace Corps. Well, it's a real thing and people really struggle, and what's the point of staying another year and finishing when the costs outweigh the benefits? I guess for a while I felt judged for deciding to ET, but since we've started talking about it with other PCVs they've been so supportive. Peace Corps has been amazing and life changing, but when it's time to go home, you just gotta go.

I'll write this as the short story and the long story. Then if you don't feel like reading, you can stop after the short story.

Short story:
-Hal got a scholarship to go back to BYU (yay!) this year...(Boo!) We decided it was an opportunity that we couldn't pass up.

Long story:
-Hal has been very unhappy in his job here in Peace Corps. His program is currently undergoing huge changes, as it wasn't set up where volunteers felt like they were doing anything towards their primary project (working at the health center). So he began thinking, I wonder if BYU would end my deferment a year early. So he wrote to them to ask if it was something that was possible. Through a miss-communication, they moved his deferment date to come back this fall.

We talked about it and decided ok, we'll leave it for now and if things are better around July we'll just push it back again. It's a really competitive program and so people are always trying to get in. So we went on our way and things got a little better for Hal. He found a place to help in the health center and made some friends of his co-workers, but he still wasn't feeling fulfilled. We talked so much, and he still really wanted to go home early.

I was really struggling with this because I love Cambodia, and I have really enjoyed my time here. I prayed about what to do endlessly. I felt like Heavenly Father had sent us here for a reason, and we had fought so hard and waited so long to get here that I didn't just want to give up. Before we left for Scotland I prayed a lot about this. I finally said, Heavenly Father, I don't know what we're supposed to do. I said if you would be amazing and bless us with a scholarship I would know that we were supposed to go home. I didn't say anything about this for a while. I finally told Hal the deal I had made with God. Neither of us thought much about it for a while.

We went off to Scotland and had a lovely time and came back to site and things were a little better. Well one day in late April or early May Hal checked his e-mail. Low and behold, BYU had given him the scholarship he had applied for. Literally the first thing I thought was Aw Crap! How can I argue with that?

It still took me a while to come to terms with the fact that we had to go home. I wanted so badly to stay and not feel like I was giving up. I made a deal with Hal then. If he would try, would really try to enjoy himself and get projects going at site, then I would happily go home. Apparently that was the motivation he needed, as he started teaching English, and started giving health messages to people waiting at the Health Center. He was so much happier having something to do, and some motivation to work for.

So even though things are better at site, we're still going home. Hal compromised for me and stayed when he was so unhappy, that I now feel like it's my time to compromise for him and go home. I had a great talk with my Country Director about our time table to leaving. I really want my non-compete agreement for federal jobs, and I was prepared to stay a month and a half here without Hal. Good thing we have such a great Director because we get to go home together, and I get my non-compete agreement.

It's hard to think we only have two months left here, the place we've come to think of as home. I'm going to miss it so much, and I hope so dearly we'll be able to come visit again some day. I guess we'll be seeing everyone back home a whole year sooner than planned...


Maddie said...

You two are both so amazing and I'm so proud of you both! I am sure this was an incredibly difficult decision but you should NEVER feel bad about it! You just have to do what feels right in life, and some times that means making the hard choices :) you both rock so hard!!

Selma @ Crazy Little World Of Mine said...

Don't feel bad about and I know you don't anymore (I hope!). There's always a reason why things happen the way they are happening. And I don't mean the school now...there will be something coming up that you will be having a "ah, that is why we are home earlier than planned!" moment! ;)


kimberly said...

What good opportunities - both Cambodia and BYU. I'm sure this was such a hard decision to make - I hope you enjoy your last couple of months there but I think we're all glad here that you'll be back to Utah soon!

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

I wish I could say in a few words how inspirational you both are to me. I don't think I could ever do what you two have done - and I don't mean deciding to terminate and come home, I mean going into the Peace Corps in the first place.

To me it sounds like you're being told that it's time to end your stay there. You've done an amazing thing going in the first place but you need to do what's best for yourselves as well.

Kudos to you both for doing what it right for you and being brave enough to put this out on the internet for anyone to read. I think you're both pretty amazing.

Torrie said...

Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at us when we least want them sometimes, but in hindsight, it is usually MUCH more clear why.

We're excited to have you back on U.S. soil, and wish you the best in your last couple of months!

Leah said...

This post gave me chills. You will surely be missed here in the Kingdom of Wonder but hopefully you'll come back some day soon. I have loved getting to know you and Hal during training and will truly miss the brightness you two bring to the group. Much love and only the best of wishes.

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

Sam, I know how hard this must be for you guys and the position that you've had to be in for awhile. I truly believe that everything does happen for a reason. Sometimes you have to experience things and things change but it's always the universe's plan.

I think great things are going to await you once you get back home.

Matt said...

SO proud of you guys - you will never forget, nor be able to replace these experiences you are having.
If there's one thing I've learned in life its to always be prepared for (and open to) the opportunities that present themseleves in our lives - even when they aren't exactly what we had been planning on. It's all about the journey!!

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