While 2014 was one of the hardest, most challenging, and testing years of my adult life 2015 has been one of the most affirming, fulfilling, and best years.
It's insane to me that this time last year Matt and I were weighing our choice to stay in Malawi or to return to the states to look for work, effectively ending our service early. As I look back at this year and I read entries from my journal, 2015 has been absolutely amazing and intensely rewarding. I am overjoyed we decided to weather the storm and come out the other side.
2015 was a year with lots of ups and of course some dips. 2015 was a year of identifying and affirming the direction of my career and really, truly believing that we can change the world. When I joined Peace Corps I did not come in with the notion that I would change the world or even a community. I hoped I would gain some valuable professional experience, have some amazing adventures, and leave positive ripples everywhere I stepped. Now, I deeply believe that with positive, intentional work we can change the world with small actions that continue to ripple into others.
Focusing on female empowerment work in a culture that does not traditionally value women has obvious challenges but it also has not so obvious rewards. This year I had the chance to really see young women think critically about their culture and world view and begin to identify ways they want to change it. Not only are they planning how to change their communities but they are actively doing such! (Check out my Gender Equality series for details!)
I could not be happier with this year and it has given me the fire I was hoping for to continue the type of work I've really gotten into here. When someone asks me what I want to do with my life or career my answer is “I want to end the exploitation of women and children”. I leave it broad because I feel that there are so many layers to this goal and ultimately if I orient my personal and professional goals towards this vision I am doing what my heart and gut tells me. 2015 only confirmed my desire to do this!
I've seen that small intentional actions really can make change. I'm not saying that Malawi is going to undergo some major gender equality revolution or that I “saved a community” (PC savior complex can be a dangerous thing) but I am saying that there about 10 girls that will do their best to make sure that family, friends, colleagues are aware of human and woman rights, and that is not how we started 2015.
Happy New Year Everyone!! and hope you are feeling awesome about ending 2015 and invigorated for 2016!!!