Back in Philadelphia during staging in October of 2011, I knew that I was going to be friends with Richie. Richie and I were two of the 7 business volunteers imbedded amongst a sea of environment/natural resources volunteers.
During training, I was always jealous of Richie, Cara, and Britney they were all fast friends and I was still swimming around just trying to keep my head above water. Richie and I had language classes together though and we spent about 6 hours a day together. Over the course of training we became good friends.
Then we moved to site. I was the biggest market town in relation to Richie’s site. So I saw him often. We both bonded with my new friend Ralph. When I joined Peace Corps I thought I was going to be isolated, alone, far from any other volunteer, and not able to easily communicate with others. The world has changed but the perception of Peace Corps has not.
Richie has sat with me while I have been sick, taking care of me. Richie has been there to listen to my rants. I give him advice, support, and someone tall to hug. We have had a few moments where things weren’t perfect, but life will do that. In the end we both realize that we need each other too much to stay mad. We are a dynamic duo. I know everything that is going on in his life. We finish each other’s sentences. We have gained the ability to read each other’s mind. Richie needs to just make one small movement with his hand and I can blurt out exactly what he is trying to convey. I know that flustered look he gets when he just wants his space. There simply aren’t enough words to describe what a great relationship we have.
Everyone in Peace Corps needs someone. We need a good friend whom we can call, cry to, laugh with, and vent to. Sometimes everything seems too overwhelming and you just want to go home, but your Peace Corps friends are there to talk you down from whatever invisible ledge you are perched on.
When everything went down with my site, I had to leave very quickly. I didn’t know when or if I would be allowed back. I knew I was moving though, so I called in the biggest friend favor request I’ve ever used.
I asked Richie to pack my entire house for me. And he did. Every single item.
How many people do you know who would stop what they are doing, go to your house, and pack the entire place? A few days after he finished packing, I was chatting with Richie on the phone. He asked me: “so what exactly happened?” I realized I hadn’t even told him the circumstances of my abrupt move from site. So he did this favor for me without any context.
When I think about my Peace Corps experience so far, a few major things pop into my head:
SAP, Typhoid, Business Literacy, the Cashew Initiative, malnourished, sacred hole, the smell of cashew trees blooming, banku, my Ghanaian family, and one more thing.
How incredibly lucky I am to have found such a wonderful friend like Richie.