Tuesday, January 25, 2011


   During our flight from Frankfurt to Chicago , I happened to listen to Johnny Cash sing "For the Good Time", a Kris Kristopherson song and one Cash had chosen for his final American Recording album.  The opening words seem to express some of the feelings I was experiencing about Dave and my abrupt departure from Niger.
                           Don't look so sad, I know it's over,
                            But life goes on, this old world will keep on turning.
                           Let's just be glad we had some time to spend together,
                           There's no need to watch the bridges that we're burning! 

      We left Morocco at 2 AM. Tears were shed by many, others were quiet and contemplative. We all felt the loss and separation anxiety caused by unexpected changes in our plans. To bid us farewell, our wonderful friend and training director, Tondi, came saying that he had told many volunteers good-bye but never like this. He knew it was over.  Several people had been in their Niger village for eighteen month, others including Dave and me, for as few as 8 days. No matter which time frame, we were all processing the separation from a dream and from Niger as we boarded the bus from our hotel and took off on return  flights to the United States

        What a journey the past 3 months had been for us--first to Philadelphia to meet our fellow Peace Corps trainees, then to Niamey, Niger for training, followed by official Peace Corps swearing in at the residence of the US Ambassador to the Republic of Niger. Soon after that, we were quickly installed into our  villages only
to be swiftly removed in a perfectly executed though abrupt evacuation to safety in Morocco. As strange and naive as it sounds, most of us felt safe in our small rural villages. We knew our villagers would protect us and never anticipated any terrorist to attempt anything harmful out in the bush. We knew, though, that Niamey was unsafe, that an important election was coming up soon and there were times when Peace Corps volunteers had to enter the city for meetings and other reasons.

             Now we were flying from Casablanca, Morocco to Frankfurt, Germany and splitting up as each volunteer took different flights to their home of record. Many of the younger volunteers were enroute o their parent's home to await new assignments. While they voiced reservations about having to return home, dependent on parents again,  we felt ambivalent about being "boomerang" parents, now relying on our adult children to host us for an indefinite period of time. We are grateful to our son and daughter-in-law for putting us up and look forward to a stay with our daughter soon. We have left new found friends--Carolyn, Taj, Qamar, Daniel, Jeff, Jori, Allison (3), Shelly, Shelby, Joseph, Jacob, Ashley, Elizabeth,Katelyn, Cassie,  Isis--to name only a few. We will miss the staff with whom we worked and trained--Valerie, Janelle, Tondi, Walter, Soulemayne, Ouessini, Djibo and more. Each of these people have different dreams and perspectives on what they hope to do with the life they are living. We all move again into the unknown and unexpected. We personally believe if we can survive and pass the test of Peace Corps service in Niger, even for a short time, that  we can do anything!

                As Johnny Cash sang in the Kristopherson song,
                   "Let's just be glad we had some time to spend together,
                    There's no need to watch the bridges that we're burning.
    We all now await our next opportunity. Each of us learned so much from these experiences and will hopefully use that knowledge as we seek and accept or refuse invitations to our next Peace Corps post.
Kala ton ton --Zarma for see you later....................Judy and Dave


  1. My prayers are with you both. We have a spare bedroom in Memphis!

  2. What an eloquent farewell to Niger and your time there and how hopeful for continuing opportunities to work with and for the Peace Corps. It has already been the adventure of a lifetime--so far!...Lynne