Little known fact about me: I save all my fortunes from my fortune cookies.
Why? While I don't think they're entirely true (because they're probably fabricated from some guy hired to do this at a fortune cookie factory for 8 hours a day), I think it's nice to keep little slips of paper that emit positivity. I know...I'm one of those seemingly annoying optimistic kids but hey, positivity always beats out negativity. =)
In any case, we had Chinese food for dinner and I did my usual fortune cookie ritual/routine: crack the fortune cookie in the middle, turn the fortune around so as not to read it before I finish my fortune cookie, eat both ends, then read the fortune. Low and behold, this is what it said tonight:
The world will soon be ready to receive your talents.
Whether this is some statement from God or what have you, I think it comes at the most appropriate time: a little over two weeks until I depart for Burkina Faso.
Yesterday, I had dinner with Anna, a 3-year Health Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) from Burkina Faso. We met through PeaceCorpsConnect.org, a social networking site exclusively for Peace Corps Volunteers, Invitees, Applicants, Returned Volunteers, and staff. We met up at Bissap Baobab on Mission in SF and she gave exactly what I needed: some real talk on what life would be like in Burkina Faso and tips for preparing to embark on this two-year adventure. I can only talk to friends and family so much about Burkina Faso without realizing how much I repeat the same thing all over again!
Needless to say, Anna calmed my nerves about leaving and dropped the anxiety level from a 9 to a 3, hahaha! Amid the really good West African food and pulsate-through-your-body music, she talked about packing, what to wear, staging, training, host families, biking, group dynamics, getting sick/medical stuff, safety, the weather, the food, living at your site for 2 years, travel, communication/mail/the Internet, community integration, language, not being what many perceive as American (a.k.a. not being white)...the list goes on. One thing I'll never forget Anna mentioning was the impact I'd have on my community. How I shouldn't expect myself to build schools and libraries, nor revamp the educational system in Burkina Faso...that isn't my purpose. Rather, it's the 'little' accomplishments that make a difference -- like learning the local language and integrating well into the community, creating a better understanding of Americans (and vice-versa), or convincing five conservative fathers to send their girls to school. If there's anything I took for last night's conversation, that was it. And out of all of this, she gave me the huge backpack she used to lug all her things to Burkina Faso. So thanks Anna!
That said, I'm headed to my last big Stateside adventure with the old friends from high school before I head to Africa: LAS VEGAS, baby!! Good night, world. =)