Another busy week has come and gone. Between meetings, charlas, and Dia de Maestros (Teacher's Day) festivities, I've been keeping busy. This past week I also hosted two Youth Development trainees/soon-to-be volunteers--Craig and Brady--so they could see what it's like to be a volunteer, ask questions outside of formal training, and get away from their host families and Spanish classes for a few days. Besides pulling my thoughts back to the three-month hell that was Pre-Service Training, their few days here in my site forced me to reflect on my experience thus far--my life, my work, and my view of Peace Corps as an organization--and make me realize how much has changed in the past 15 months. If nothing else, it takes a LOT to get to me these days. My idea of a satisfying "social life" has changed from bar-hopping in Chicago with friends to sitting in a dirt-floor shack eating steaming-hot chicken soup without silverware, or coloring with Crayolas in my kitchen with 4-year old Dilan. I find myself jumping up and down at the smallest of successes. If I don't have tortillas for a few days, I crave them. I will pretty much eat anything, cow stomach included. I often wear the same pair of pants three days in a row. It's now a battle for me to finish 2 beers in one night. Showering is not a daily event. However, I still love a good cup of coffee and I will still go to great lengths to satisfy my sweet-tooth. I still get lonely and miss having a boyfriend. I still can't bring myself to sit on latrines or seatless toilets; I am now an expert hoverer. I still check Facebook far too often. And I still have bad days in which I stay in bed, watch 1990's rom-coms on my Macbook, and eat junk food. ("You can take the girl out of America…")
What's to conclude of all of this? Life is good. People are adaptable creatures. Having the proverbial "Peace Corps experience" is worth the fight it takes to get there. And perhaps most importantly, Peace Corps is a trade-off. A give and take. Jump through your fair share of bureaucratic hoops, give up a great deal of your freedom/individuality, become a number/statistic, be Flexible, Enthusiastic, and Patient and in return what do you get? You get the amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in a culture on the government dime, gain valuable ground-level job experience and work skills, and be able to identify yourself with a reputable organization that has been positively changing the developing world for 50 years. This, all while knowing you have the world's best healthcare and security to fall back on if you need them. Oh, and 24 vacation days a year? It's hard to beat that in the U.S. job-industry.
In a few words, I can't complain. I mean I can complain, but I really shouldn't. Because I'm really very lucky to be where I'm at, and life is good.
Dreams of a Beached Cow
4 years ago