i’m home.

I hope you haven’t taken my absence from Moving Wright Along too personal.

On May 24, 2018, I said my “see you laters,” to friends, family, and colleagues in my village in Namibia. It’s crazy to believe that two years of my life came and went just like that. I can vividly remember my first night in my community. I sat down on my bed in my new home and had an “oh sh*t” moment. What had I done? To say I am so happy to have completed my Peace Corps service is an understatement because there were many times and many reasons I wanted to book the next flight home.

After a “treat yo self” mini vacay in Johannesburg, South Africa (I hope to post about that soon), on May 29, I hauled 80 pounds of my most valuable Namibian possessions and traveled 8,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean, back to Philly. Ironically, where my entire Peace Corps journey began.

I surprised my family by arriving a week earlier than they expected. That was FUN!

As you can imagine, Moving Wright Along will no longer be a place where I talk about my Peace Corps service. I will, however, archive my Peace Corps service posts for y’all (once I figure out how to do that and not clutter this space).

As many of you know, I have been accepted into the Nutrition and Food Science Graduate Program at UCO. In a few short weeks, I will begin the final leg of my journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian. While I have taken a longer route than most it was the (w)right one. (You see what I did!)

I can’t wait to share my graduate school life with you on Moving Wright Along, as well as all my Trader Joe’s and Aldi hauls on IG. I considered starting a new blog and site for my nutrition journey, but I have branded myself with my blog, and letsbehonest… it’s a pretty good name.

So, if you are interested in hearing me talk about food, food, and more food, please stick around and share my blog with friends and family.

❤ Krystal

close of service conference.

The Close of Service (COS) Conference was held March 12 – 16, 2018 in Windhoek. COS Conference gives volunteers an opportunity to review their Peace Corps experience, figure out how to document skills and experience gained during service, prepare for re-integration to the States (or wherever they may go), and of course, celebrate the accomplishment of completing 2 years of service.

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The week began with medical and language testing. Each volunteer has an annual dental exam and cleaning as well as a physical exam. This time around, our medical exam included a collection of stool samples to check for parasites. Peace Corps Volunteers get very comfortable about discussion bowel movements or the lack thereof. For some, this was quite a feat to accomplish in a mere 4 days. Luckily, I passed.

Besides a stubborn ringworm and the leftover Holi powder in my ears from our Holi celebration in early-March, I will be leaving Namibia in good health, a few pounds lighter and with a nice Namibian glow, which I jokingly said, “it’s the light at the end of the tunnel radiating off of me.”

I mostly try to avoid taking my Language Proficiency Interview (LPI). Learning Oshikwanyama has not been my favorite part of service. My friend, Ndamona, tutored me for a few months preceding my LPI, in the end, I’m leaving Namibia at an intermediate proficiency level and I am fine with that.

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It is customary for the COSing group to present a gift or token of our appreciation to the Peace Corps staff. In the past, groups have presented items such as memory books, custom-made rugs, and other hand-crafted items.

Our group decided to build a cornhole set complete with handmade beanbags made with traditional materials. Our idea was to present a gift which staff and volunteers could both enjoy while helping to create a stronger partnership and culture at Peace Corps Namibia.

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As my time in Namibia nears the end, I continue to reflect on the last two years: accomplishments, challenges, and growth.

I am positive about the future, and can’t wait to share what’s in store for Moving Wright Along.

❤ Krystal

styled by namibia.

I have enjoyed being immersed in the beautiful, bold, bright world of shitenges.

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Shitenges or kitenges are fabrics similar to sarongs worn mostly by women. Shitenges are commonly designed into garments such as dresses and tops, or even worn alone as head wraps. Shitenges are sold by the meter and can cost as little as N$10 (a little less than a US dollar) per meter, although more popular or “waxy” prints can cost N$70+ (~$5.40 US) per meter. Most of these prints are made in other African countries, so prices can be a tad higher to account for importing.

Many local tailors can put a needle to work without the use of patterns. All of the outfits below were made from a simple WhatsApp picture I sent to the tailor (excluding the dashiki print top.)

Tailors have styled me for weddings, everyday wear and Peace Corps events. The most expensive custom-made outfit cost me about N$450 (~$35 USD) and the least expensive was about N$80 (~$6 USD). Also, check out my Wambo earrings made by the ladies at Work of Our Hands, a non-profit based in Okahandja which focuses on empowering women through employment opportunities. Check out their IG page and better yet, support them.

I loved falling in love with Namibia and the styles of this country which I will miss when I move back to the States.

The pink striped print is called “odelela”. It’s traditional Wambo print and is worn mostly at celebrations…everything else is just me embracing the beauty of this country.

❤ Krystal

taking a look back

I was selected along with 16 current volunteers to serve as a RV (Resource Volunteer) during PST (Pre-Service Training) for G47. Last week, I attended GTOT (General Training of Trainers), in preparation for the incoming group of business and health volunteers next week.

I am still coming to grips with the fact that my time as a volunteer is coming to an end. I am experiencing many feelings of sadness and denial. And feelings that I could’ve done more.

I promise this is not a sad, sappy post. I wanted to share two things in this post:

My invitation letter & My aspiration statement

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I remember receiving my invitation letter while I was sitting at the WIC office during my community nutrition rotation. Minutes before, I had gotten off the phone with my Dietetic Technician advisor and financial aid office. Due to an administrative error, they had dropped me out of my courses. My advisor was worried and called me that morning wondering why I had dropped courses more than halfway through my last semester. I called the financial aid office to clear things up, which was not easy. When I received my letter, there was a mixture of excitement and frustration. Robin Cooley, my preceptor and one of my references, celebrated with me. Receiving this invitation, solidified the reality of the Peace Corps for me.

My aspiration statement was written after reflecting on my time interning at Brookside Assisted Living during my clinical nutrition rotation. Ms. B, which I found out later, lived in my neighborhood, helped change my perspective on life and death, and how each of us has the ability to do something.

I challenge each volunteer currently serving, coming to the end of service, or even about to begin service to take a look back at your invitation and your aspiration statement. 27 months of service is not easy. Heck, 6 months of service is not easy. While service may play out much different than you expected, looking back can provide the chance to see more of what your country of service has taught you and less of what you taught them.

❤ Krystal

i choose to stay.

Last year, I wrote a post about FOMO (read: the truth about fomo as a peace corps volunteer). I mentioned how being a Volunteer means missing out on birthdays and other significant milestones back home. But, there is one thing I left out.

Death.

Because the thought of death still makes me uncomfortable, although death is as natural as life.

On Sunday, February 11, my Gramps was placed in hospice care. He passed away early in the morning on Saturday, February 17, the day after my 31st birthday. He was 87 years old.

With only 3 months remaining of my service, I choose to stay in Namibia. This was not an easy decision to make.

Throughout the course of the week, my days were filled with what can only be described as signs from God. Signs of comfort and peace and understanding. This helped guide me through the grief of being away from home during such a significant time for my family.

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I choose to stay.

Because I want to continue your legacy of service to others.
Because I want to remember your glances as if you already knew you were looking at me for the last time.
Because I want to remember your big white smile and gentle laugh.
Because I know you wanted me to remember your life and not your death.
Because no matter how far away I am in distance, you’ll always be in my heart.

Dedicating my Peace Corps Service to my Gramps
Cary Holland, Jr.
November 13, 1930 – February 17, 2018

❤ Krystal

blog it home 2017.

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Forgive me. I have to get a little textbooky with you. But, just briefly. I mean, you could just skip over the beginning, but then you pose the risk of this post not making much sense.

Okay, you made it through the introduction, so just read the three points. Goal 3 is most pertinent to this post, but 1 and 2 are important as well. So, I guess after you read 3, go back and read 1 and 2. Now, read them in order. Perfect! It flows better that way.

Peace Corps Goals:

1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

The first two goals are what PCVs live and breathe day in and day out. They say being a PCV is a 24/7 job and that is certainly true. The last goal, commonly referred to as the Third Goal, is what Moving Wright Along is about- sharing the culture of Namibia with y’all back home and I hope you’re enjoying it.

Easier access to the internet changed the game in Third Goal communication. Never did I imagine while being 8,000-miles away from home I would still be able to connect with my friends and family back home and feel like, in some cases, I’ve never left.

The power of social media via Facebook, Instagram, WordPress (all my favorite platforms) has changed things.

Since 2013, Peace Corps has hosted the Blog it Home contest. Winners were then invited to Washington, D.C. for one week to promote the Third Goal in a series of intercultural presentations, professional development events, and other activities around the city.

Blog it Home has had over 1,000 PCVs participate since 2013. So, this year, with a fresh look, Peace Corps posts globally are hosting their own Blog it Home competitions. This means more bloggers, more winners, and more fantastic Third Goal stories!

But, no trip to D.C., but it’s still okay. :/

I have decided to enter Moving Wright Along into the running for Blog it Home in Namibia.

So, what I would love from you:

Nothing.

Okay, I lied.

Just keep on reading Moving Wright Along. After you read, comment. After you comment, share. Although winners are not chosen based on readership, I think it’s important that I am reaching my audience to promote cross-cultural understanding.

If you’re new here, check out some of my reader’s favorites:

And if you want, check out a few of my favorites:

My blog will be judged on the following criteria: Demonstrated commitment to increasing intercultural understanding (40%), cultural richness of blog (30%), quality of writing (15%), quality of media content (15%).

So, I need you, yes you, to continue to read and engage with me on all of my Moving Wright Along platforms.

I want to thank y’all for reading, sharing, liking and following my blog, Instagram, and Facebook page. I used to think when people from around the world read my blog, it was by sheer accident. I’m coming to terms with the fact that people across the globe actually subscribe to and read my blog, intentionally, and that’s pretty cool.

Follow Moving Wright Along, Peace Corps Namibia, and Peace Corps on Instagram: @movingwrightalong@peacecorpsnamibia, and  @peacecorps

Like Moving Wright Along and Peace Corps Namibia and  Peace Corps on Facebook

❤ Krystal

peace corps and long-distance relationships.

During the application process, Peace Corps inquires about relationship statuses of all applicants. And for obvious reasons, they are casting for the next MTV’s Real World. I mean, after half a century of Peace Corps volunteers, they know the toll distance can take on relationships.

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Volunteers have extreme highs and lows throughout their 27 months of service and sometimes those ups-and-downs are difficult for someone on the “outside” to grasp. Romantic partners may worry from afar, but they still have no control over situations thousands of miles away.

I can’t tell you that a long-distance relationship is easy because it is not. I realize many things are out of my control (I think I need to write a blog post called: who is in control?). Some days the network is just down or the WiFi signal is only strong enough to connect in short phrases of “can you hear me?” or “what did you say?”

I originally wrote the post to give tips about navigating a long-distance relationship, but I realize there is no true answer across the board. But, I will tell you the two most important reasons why a long- distance relationship as worked for us.

Openness

“Big talk” and the tone was set early in our relationship. We’ve defined our relationship and what that entails during and after my service. Of course, openness includes honesty, trust, and patience. Since we’re able to discuss these things, I believe we’ve been able to build a stronger foundation.

Support

Having support back home can make or break a volunteer’s service, IMO. I have been extremely fortunate to have a boyfriend who has supported my decision to continue on with Peace Corps and “accomplish the goals I set out to meet.” Peace Corps is important to him because it is important to me. Having a boyfriend who can provide sound advice especially when my emotions are whack has been beneficial for me. I won’t go into sappy deets.

Another bonus of our long-distance relationship is we don’t argue much. We realize the times we talk are valuable and there’s little time or energy to be upset with each other.

Welp, there you have it.

❤ Krystal