Friday, August 3, 2012

Why Peace Corps Was The Best Decision I Ever Made

The other day as we were riding our bikes through our village Hal asked me if I'm glad we did this. Both of us answered that we were so glad that we did this. It has been an unforgettable experience, a life changing experience, and experience I will be forever grateful for.

Before we joined Peace Corps I'd say we were in a life slump. Ok, I was in a life slump. I didn't have much of a direction in my life other than wanting an adventure and wanting to serve people. In Peace Corps I got both of those things. I've seen part of the world, I've lived in a foreign country, I've lived with a native family and come to love them. 
I think that just being here and fulfilling that part of me that wanted adventure so badly gave me clarity. It helped me realize that I'm really lazy by nature and I need to get my butt up and moving. It helped me realize I love helping people and sharing knowledge. It helped me realize I do have ambition. It helped me realize what I want to be after all of this over. It has helped me become flexible, frugal, open to change, and new ideas.
It has taught me a lot about myself, but the biggest realization I have come to, is that I did the absolutely right thing by marrying Hal. It's 100% true that Peace Corps will make or break your marriage, and luckily for us, Peace Corps has made our marriage stronger.
One of the best things Peace Corps does, is give you unique view of the country you serve in. No, I'm not some dumb tourist wearing ugly baggy fishermen's pants and a light flowy linen shirt. You can pick out those tourists a mile away, who think they are just so cool and fit in with the locals in their ugly fishermen pants. Well guess what, Khmer people hate those pants and most fishermen fish in their underwear. Khmer people love it when you dress up in a skirt and a button up shirt, when you wear clothes that fit you well. They love it so much when you can say anything in their language.

You learn about the people, the heart of the country. A country is so much more than the sights it has to offer. I'm not sure I would have ever made it to Cambodia if it hadn't been for Peace Corps. I am so glad I had the opportunity to live here for the last year. Cambodians are seriously the best people I've met. 
Living in a village, being able to speak the language, and having a Khmer host family to look out for you makes your experience feel remarkably different than just being a tourist, or even being an ex-pat. I've only lived here a year, but sometimes I just feel like I'm Cambodian, and living here will be my life forever. It has made me want to experience every country the way I have experienced Cambodia
Even though we're leaving early we still have gotten so much out of our service here in Peace Corps Cambodia. Even though we're leaving early, it doesn't change the fact that serving in Peace Corps was the right thing for us to do with this year in our lives. So even though Peace Corps isn't right for everyone, and it wasn't right for us for a whole two years, I will still always count serving in Peace Corps as probably the best decision we have made as a married couple.
Cambodia has stolen my heart, and I'm not sure if America will ever get it back.


kate said...

this was beautiful, made me teary a bit, but also had me nodding at every single line. especially that part about realizing that Hal is 100% the husband for you- it really has solidified so much of our marriage (chris and mine) too and it's perhaps the best feeling in the world, to know that and have that, and owe it to cambodia, forever.

i shall miss you both, but expect to see you on the other side of the world. much love.

Torrie said...

Oh, I just loved this. I could relate to so much of it, and you couldn't be more right about all that you said. I esp. loved the part where you said that a country is more than the tourist sites it has to offer. In El Salvador, I hardly saw any of those, but like you, I gained a profound love and appreciation for the true culture of the country, esp. the good hearts of the people.

You will remember this for the rest of your life, and chances are you'll be thinking about it every day for the rest of your life. So glad that you've had such a good experience with it all.

Travel home safe!

Matt said...

Beautifully written - thanks for sharing!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I love this post! It sounds like you are in such good place and that your marriage is also doing fabulous as well!

sydni said...

this blog post inspires me! thank you so much for sharing your experience!

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