On my first 7 hour boat ride to Tablas Island, I was still a bit skeptical of the 5 other Americans assigned to serve with me on this island. Now after a year and a half ‘family’ doesn’t even begin to describe the bond formed from nights in the hospital when someone got dengue or food poisoning or the flu; from judging a cross-dressing employee’s day dance, singing karaoke duets, or riding on top of each other in an overloaded vehicle; from summiting a mountain and from scuba diving while trying to anchor coral to the ground for our first coral garden; from 3 hour bicycle rides while our co-workers ride motorcycles; from eating roasted duck on Thanksgiving and sharing the incomprehensible flavors of the Thai dinner Kalen cooked us this past weekend (after we ran out of propane for the stove, rode a tricycle all around Odiongan to get it refilled, only to return home and borrow from the neighbors).
Therefore ‘sad’ doesn’t nearly cover the emotions of saying goodbye. A Peace Corps volunteer signs a 27-month contract, yet inevitably some volunteers do not finish these 27-months…maybe its a family emergency or medical injury or an alternative job opportunity. As of this week our original Romblon PCV family is less one as we said goodbye to Kalen. He worked as an elementary school teacher, but really he inspired numerous kids to speak with confidence, to show up to school each day, and to think outside the box.
February has proved to be a month of comings and goings because this goodbye will be shortly followed by a hello to Peace Corps Response Volunteer John Larkins. Response volunteers typically serve for a few months to a year and are assigned a very specific job based on requested technical skills. John will work for the Provincial Tourism Office on eco-tourism development.
It has been a goodbye that came to fast and a hello that couldn’t come fast enough.
Check this out…John and Kalen crossed paths at the airport in Tokyo!!!