Mixed Feelings on the Final Day

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As this Peace Corps volunteer stepped onto a United States Helicopter, it was more than relief that stewed in an anxious mind.

Life was hard in Albania for Peace Corps volunteers, who were forced to live with the Albanians, not as foreign visitors. Salary and living conditions were decided on the averages existing in each city.

But even with the discomforts and differences that the volunteers were made to endure, many grew accustomed to the simplicity of the new way of life. Some even enjoyed it. Thus, the reason for the difficulty of the evacuation.

Volunteers were suddenly forced to leave their homes, jobs, families and friends-all in a short period. Many didn't get an opportunity to say goodbye and feel that at the first sign of danger, they abandoned the people that took them in and took care of them. Some still feel guilty that while being safe in the United States, their Albanian friends are in the midst of a war. While many of the volunteers are getting accustomed again to the American way of life, Albanians are without food and being bombarded with gunshots, lootings and rapes.

Mail is extremely unpredictable, as are phone lines, so communication is difficult, if not impossible.

While many volunteers agree that being rescued from machine guns and grenades by helicopters and warships will make a great story to tell someday, it does not make up for the losses they have had, or the confusion that is just beginning.