June 8: As American As …

Today, I went to a graduation party. There was pie! There was lots and lots of pie. After two years, in Armenia, today felt like home.

After returning from the party, I continued packing for Peace Corps Ethiopia. When I packed for Armenia, I had a rolling duffel, a small suitcase, a 60L Eagle Creek backpack, and a book bag.

During PST (Pre Service Training), one of the volunteers began calling me Walmart. Forgot to pack hair bands, I had them. Needed lip balm, I had that too.

For clothes, I packed a thirty item capsule wardrobe, in two sizes. Half the items were in my current size and the other half items that hadn’t fit me in years. In some cases, the items never fit. I would purchase jeans or a cute jacket and tell myself that I would drop twenty pounds, maybe thirty, maybe forty.

Once in Armenia, my weight pretty much stayed the same, during PST. Ten weeks later, at my permanent site, things quickly changed. Ararat Marz is hot, during the summer. My mandatory 90 day “integration” period meant living with another family and spending my days meeting my new community.

Leaving my home, each day that summer, I walked everywhere. I walked to the local youth center. Next, I would walk to the library, for Armenian lessons. That was followed by a stop at a local cafe, for a Coke. On the way home, I would stop by a park, near the Mayor’s Office, and say hello to locals. The next day, I would do the walk all over again. By the end of summer, I had dropped more than forty pounds.

The funny thing was two years before going back into the Peace Corps, I rode a bike to my job at Duke University. I also signed up for a ten week weight loss program for women. At the end of the program, I only dropped nine pounds. Then, I moved to Masis and BAM!

So, today, at that graduation party, I had pie! I had lots and lots of pie. This time next week, I’ll be in Ethiopia and Peace Corps staff will be sizing me up for my PST and permanent housing. I have no idea about where I’ll be living, but I already have a number, in my mind, of how much weight I’m about to lose. –GGT

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