Hello all! I’m afraid the title says it all. I’ve decided that given the state of the world that it makes the most sense for me to come home. I’m so glad the decision to stay or go was left in my hands. I’m glad I had the support to stay and try to wait it out. And I’m grateful for all the support from all the people around me when I decided to go home.
The process of decision making was both very slow and very fast. It was slow because I was struggling for a long time before finally deciding that it was best to go home. It was very fast because once I had considered going home, I finalized the decision and got a plane ticket in about 3 days.
Going into the lock down, I knew that isolation would not be sustainable long-term for me. Anyone who knows me well knows that being alone is the opposite of how I prefer to spend my time. I had hoped that the quick action by the South African government could truly stifle COVID-19 here. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. Like many people, I spent a lot of time with friends and family on line, but because most of these people were in the US, and because of the time difference, I normally wouldn’t be in contact with anyone until 5pm. That meant I lived almost my whole day in silence before having social interactions. Since I had only recently moved into my apartment, I had not had the chance to fill it with equipment for many hobbies. I had some limited craft supplies, my guitar, and of course my computer. For much of the lock down I couldn’t really buy craft supplies either, and when the B string broke on the guitar, I couldn’t replace it. Two months of such complete isolation has taken an immense toll on me.
A major part of my decision has come from the fact that I can’t do the job I was sent here to do while we are locked down. My work is inherently interpersonal, and it would be too expensive for many of the youth to buy the cell data in order to participate in online activities. I could theoretically be planning for activities after lock down, but the timeline of the lockdown is too unpredictable to do that effectively.
I’m sure that my reasons for going home are not a surprise. I think my experience at its core is not very different from most people’s, but it is certainly taking place under unusual circumstances.
This decision was mine to make, but I still had to break my own heart to make it. It means saying goodbye to a lot of people I had just started to get to know. It means saying goodbye to a project I had only just started. It means saying goodbye to shared dreams that I have poured my whole heart and a huge amount of time into. It means that I will not reap the rewards I was hoping for when I agreed to enter a 2 month period of isolation. But as with many heartbreaks, I know that it is the right decision despite the grief.
The obvious next question is what’s next for me? I can honestly tell you I have no idea. There’s a chance I could come back and continue this project, there’s a chance I could start a new project, and there’s a chance that I’ll move on from YASC. I certainly can’t make that decision now, and if my experience with COVID-19 thus far has taught me anything, it’s that I shouldn’t plan too much for the future until we know a little more about where this pandemic is going.