It is always hard to come home from vacation–there’s sadness that it’s over, bags to unpack, and maybe dread that you have to go back to work.

I have a similar experience when I come back from Rwanda. Though it’s not a vacation, being in Rwanda is a different version of my usual life. Our days have less structure and do not require seeing entitled patients who have googled their symptoms and want Cipro for a hangnail. We celebrate our victories and mourn for the hopeless. We share a beer after work each day. We teach eager students and eat our meals together.

Re-entry has seemed more difficult than usual this time. Maybe it’s because I’m older, or maybe it’s a result of visiting Janviere and seeing the struggle to survive for most Rwandans. The passage of time and a week of better sleep has helped for sure, but I just can’t shake a vague sense of unease.

I am a huge fan of a podcast called This American Life, and one of my all time favorite episodes is the story of a Somali man named Abdi who wins the lottery for a United States green card visa in 2013 (before Somalia was added to the no-immigration list). This lottery, called the diversity visa lottery, still exists, and it offers a chance at the American dream for the recipients.

I listened to the updated story about Abdi as I was driving today, and I felt the heaviness of re-entry lift a bit. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but the ending is happy and will definitely make you smile.

Abdi Noor