They say you can judge a girl by her friends! Here were the volunteers closest to me in Peace Corps Ethiopia:
Sarah (G7) is from Virginia Beach, Virginia. I met Sarah our first week in Ethiopia at Kings hotel. Sarah graduated from Liberty University but has also lived in South Africa and Denver, Colorado. We share a love for the poet Mary Oliver. I spent one Christmas with Sarah and her husband, Aaron, in their site, Bahar Dar. The Arnolds served as education volunteers in Bahar Dar, but now they live in Virginia Beach. Sarah loves kids, is an amazing teacher, and has landed a grown-up job teaching gifted education in her hometown. Sarah is funny, kind, and a little dramatic sometimes! Read about her Ethiopia experience here: http://heyarnolds.tumblr.com/.
Sweet Jackie Suits (G7) is from Roanoke, Virginia. She found my blog before we left for Ethiopia and an email from her between my finals was a highlight of that sleepless week. Jackie graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied abroad in Chile. Jackie was an education volunteer in Durame, a town in SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region) only 5 hours from Adaba. Luckily we were able to meet frequently throughout our service, sometimes in Shashemene or Hawassa. When we couldn’t get together, we blew through phone credit to talk to one another! Jackie is a thoughtful person and a faithful friend. Her Peace Corps blog is http://suitstoethiopia.wordpress.com/.
Even though Shayna (G7) is from Miami, Florida, she says I’m the most Southern friend she’s ever had! Shayna and I traveled together for our “demystification” trip to Finote Selam our first week in Ethiopia. Shayna went to college in New Mexico and taught social studies at a Native American reservation after graduating. Shayna loves to talk about politics and religion; we could chat all day! Even though Shayna was a volunteer in Tigray region, just a few miles from the Ethiopian border with Eritrea, we met often at Peace Corps events in Addis (where we were always roommates), and together with Jackie, we spent a month in India! Shayna challenges my mind and my heart. She wrote about her service at http://shaynaethiopia.wordpress.com/
Bridget (G6) was my first site mate in Adaba and the person who taught me how to make a life in Ethiopia. Bridget was a Master’s International student, which means that her Peace Corps service counted toward her master’s degree in National Resource Management at the University of Montana. Bridget and I spent the better part of 16 months as site mates in Adaba. Thanks to her gregarious spirit, Bridget had many friends in town who she was happy to share with me! We were lucky to be able to work together on several projects and share many home cooked meals. Once I apparently told Bridget she had a “non-traditional” lifestyle, which I’ll never live down! What I meant was, Bridget’s West Coast tendencies, care for the Earth, and radical generosity have affected me deeply. Bridget blogged about her service at http://bridgetinsley.blogspot.com/.
As my second site mate in Adaba, Maggie (G10) had a lot to live up to! I’m happy to report that in our two months together, she’s risen to the occasion. Like Bridget, Maggie is a Master’s International student. Her focus is on National Resource Management at the University of Washington. Maggie’s originally from a little holler in Kentucky, and she even spent a year working at the Congaree State Forest in my own Columbia, SC! Maggie’s extremely positive and good-natured; I am so happy she will continue the legacy of sweet, hardworking volunteers in Adaba. I look forward to hearing about Maggie’s future projects and am sure she will leave this country with a heart as full as mine is now. Maggie’s blog is http://peacecorps-magwild.blogspot.com/.