Yesterday we had our first person ET.
We were in the middle of our second round of interviews, these being specific ones designed to help the staff determine our sites today (see the next post!) by asking about our interests and whether we'd like to be in an urban or rural setting. Someone asked if he was going to interview next and he said he wouldn't be interviewing because he was going home. That would be his last day with us.
We were stunned. I suppose it was inevitable that someone would go home, but there were others I would have laid my money on before him. He seemed okay.
But here's the interesting part: he was ETing because he left a girlfriend in the states and he wanted to go back to her. We knew about this long before we left Miami, and I remember talking with him one-on-one about the situation and how I had been through the very same thing. In fact, while we were in Miami and again on the plane down here I told him that if he ever wanted to talk to someone who understands his situation and has seen it played out before, to come to me. I didn't really think he'd avail himself of the offer, pride being what it is, but I thought I'd extend the offer anyway. And I was right -- he never came to me to work through his thoughts.
So he packed and left his homestay last night and will spend the next couple nights in a hotel in Georgetown awaiting his flight home. As we talked yesterday and he told us the situation, I sat there looking at myself. Myself, seven years ago. Consider:
- He is in the exact same situation I was in
- He is almost exactly the same age I was (27)
- He is in almost the exact same part of the world
- He made it basically the same distance into training (4 weeks) as I did before Eting.
History repeats itself.
My hope is that things work out for him as they didn't for me. I really, really hope he doesn't come to regret his decision with every fiber of his being. I hope he doesn't curse himself for his decision. Because he doomed himself the very moment he clicked "Submit" on the initial application -- he was setting himself up for failure. Sure, it is theoretically possible for someone to do an entire PC service with a successful long-distance relationship back home, but it is almost impossible. As I found out.
In another odd irony, just as I came to the internet cafe to write this, I sat down to see an e-mail from someone who found this very blog. He had ETed from the Dominican Republic not very long ago for the same reason and was wondering about my take on regret and about the reapplication process. I told him honestly the regret can be a real killer, and the reapplication process worse. I hope my GUY16 compatriot doesn't have to go through either.
We'll miss you, man.
p.s.: We're going to write him a giant goodbye card tomorrow on the same flip-chart paper the trainers have used throughout training. A personalized goodye from the people he'll never be able to forget, for good or bad. I hope he likes it.