MJ Live

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The end begins (Written 9/30/07)

So a few entries back I was talking about how hard it's going to be to say goodbye to the community that has been built around me for the past 2 years. Well there's one community that has been with me since the very beginning of this journey – Group 75. We've gone through a lot over these past years and have seen both the good and bad sides of Samoa – together. It's always hard to say goodbye to any of our group members, but it's even harder when it's the proper time to leave. The time has come for us to start thinking about packing up our things and moving on to our next adventure – the first Group 75er to start that task is Holly. Holly will be the first member of our group to COS (Completion of Service) and thus she's the first one to officially complete all of her 2 year service. Now, the great thing about Holly making it to this point is that when we first met she didn't believe she could do it – she didn't think she could make it. A funny story I always remember is that she brought a credit card with her (when we first arrived in Samoa) just in case she decided to buy a ticket home. There have been a ton of close calls with her (she was thinking about leaving while I was in New Zealand, trying to sneak out under my nose) but I'm glad to see that she made it all the way through – she finished the race. The best part is, out of all the remaining members of Group 75 she's the one that the new people know the best…so once she's gone, Group 75 will become myths and legends because none of us really hang around the other Peace Corps volunteers a lot.

So yesterday (Saturday), the 9 members left in our group (Holly, Ryan, Julya, Sara, Dianne, Bryan, John, Candice and myself) got together – with Kim, our country director – for dinner at Chopsticks which is a Chinese restaurant located close to the Peace Corps office. This was the first get together we have had since the COS conference a few weeks back – and this was the last time we would all be together in Samoa. When we sat down at the table, it was shocking to see that there were so few of us left. We had a good time – as we always do together – and the meal was good. Kim brought her daughter, Mya, who's like 3 years old and just recently learned how to walk…so she was bouncing around everywhere. It was fun to get to hang out with Kim in a non-Peace Corps capacity because we have all been through some rough times – especially over the past year – so we just wanted to remind her that we support her and thanked her for helping us all over these past 2 years. The only bad part was that the power kept going out in the restaurant – it went off twice while the power in the buildings around us stayed on. So even in the end, nothing goes as planned for Group 75.

Today (Sunday), I went over to St. Joe's for my semi-weekly gaming/movie afternoon with Ryan and Holly – our last time to do this together. I had not been over there since the week before the South Pacific Games (St. Joseph's was used by the Samoan SPG team, so I wanted to avoid the hassle) so it was great to be able to freely go over there. When I walked in, Holly and Ryan were playing Magic (thus cementing Holly's ubernerd status) and I promptly went into Ryan's room to play Twilight Princess on the GameCube. The great thing about our group is that we can hang around each other and not need to be overly clingy – just being in each other's presence is enough for us. It definitely feels like my friendships back at home where just hanging out at the house is good recreational fun for us. After the gaming sessions, we went to the movie theaters (we picked up Candice along the way) and went to see two separate movies: Candice and I watched 'Resident Evil: Extinction' and Holly, Ryan and Brother Steven (the principal of St. Joseph's) watched 'The Kingdom'. Resident Evil 3 was good but lacked an ending, it was an enjoyable movie and I was glad that they followed the logical conclusion for Resident Evil 2. Once the movies were done, we went to Scoops for an ice cream (another movie night tradition) and then headed home. When we got to my house, I gave Holly the biggest hug to say congratulations on completing the 2 years and this would be the last time I saw her before she left (she's leaving on Thursday). 

The next person in our group probably won't leave until after November 14, but now the hard part of our Peace Corps conclusion begins – saying goodbye to the group as people slowly trickle out of the country. Like I always said, it's strange that you enter the country with such a bang but you leave the country quietly. We'll see each other stateside – this place will just feel a little bit emptier as December draws closer.

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