Tomorrow afternoon I'll hop on United for the Island Hopper to Hawaii. I don't know if Island Hopper deserves capitalization because I wouldn't call it a "proper" noun. It's more like a freezing cold air-conditioned time warp from hell. Here's the route: Guam->Chuuk->Pohnpei->Kosrae->Kwajalein->Marshalls->Honolulu. At each stop you have to get out of the plane, move your stuff (so they can check for contraband), step out into humidity and scorching heat, and then re-assume your ascent/descent pattern into the depths of the "friendly" skies. Last time I got on United it was to Guam, and they hooked it up with some nice free champagne. I hope the same courtesy shall be extended again.
So there's that. I'm leaving. Blah.
But last week has been amazing. By amazing, I mean golden. By golden, I mean seven golds. 7. SEVEN!!! But not only that. Call within the next five minutes, and you'll receive three silvers. 3. THAT'S RIGHT! THREE SILVER MEDALS! And as a bonus, we'll even throw in a handy bronze medal, perfect for those family dinner parties. If you haven't caught on by now, I'm not the ghost of Billy Mays trying to sell you Olympic medals. What I'm trying to say is that my long distance track team completely kicked ass at the Microgames. For every event, EVERY EVENT, we won a medal. It was ridiculous. I was screaming and jumping on the side of the track like a lunatic. By the end of the week, I'd lost my voice and gained even more notoriety throughout Pohnpei. On the radio, they described me as, "... there's a white guy jumping and screaming on the sideline. I think he's their coach." At one point during the games, I had to go say goodbye to my best friend on the island. That sucked, but on my way to the airport in the taxi, the taxi driver told the base that the track coach was leaving to the airport. The base was like, "What? He's leaving!?" Now this was gossip that would spread like wildfire. I quelled it pretty quickly by telling the guy to pick me up in a couple of hours. Oh how I'll miss the coconut wireless... In other words, my runners did extremely well during the games. 800m, 1500m, 5k, 10k, and half marathon. My athletes really proved to me that working with them for the past six months was totally worth it. Not a second of my time was wasted. It was definitely the best secondary project I've done during Peace Corps, and it's probably my biggest accomplishment throughout my life along with completing Peace Corps.
My last Upward Bound high school summer class was last Thursday. This summer I taught Geometry, but let me just say this at the start. I'm a math nerd. I always have been. [I was always in the top 99% on every national math assessment throughout elementary and high school. I scored a 5 on the AP Calculus Exam and a 30 on the ACT math portion. <---- All of these are ego boosters. But you know what's funny? I stopped taking math after Calculus. You'd think that someone who did derivative calculus for fun to figure out daily things should be like a scientist in a trench coat. Something nerdy at least with thick glasses. But no. I was wasted talent.] So teaching Geometry was my schiznit. I tried to jazz up some math concepts like parallel lines by describing them as two students who agreed to stay the same distance away from each other at all times. I described equilateral triangles as the perfect love triangle. My students ate it up, or at least they didn't fall asleep on me. So I gave them their final exam on Thursday, and they all smoked it. My average grade for the class was like a 88%, and I'm not an easy teacher. For the final, I made them prove the Pythagorean theorem to me, FROM SCRATCH. Ya, I'm that kind of evil. But they did it, and they proved to me that UB students are the best on Pohnpei. We also just had a goodbye dinner last night for Ben and me, and the UB staff was very nice by allowing us to run up the restaurant bill. They have always been a great resource great people to work with. I will definitely miss them and keep in touch.
Everyone keeps asking me if I'm ready to leave. I am. I'm not. Everyone keeps asking me if I'll come back to Pohnpei. I might if I get a job offer. It's a lot of things to consider, but no matter what the future holds for me (cue the soppy ending), here's what I do know:
I have had the adventure of a lifetime here on Pohnpei, and nothing can change that.
Would I choose to do Peace Corps again if I could go back and talk to myself? Yes.
Am I glad I did Peace Corps? Yes.
Am I ready to come home? For a bit!
Here's to the amazing adventure and many more to come. Drink up, and stay thirsty my friends.