Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My View, Looking Back on Peace Corps

We've been home for over a month now and looking back at Cambodia makes me feel so nostalgic. Some part of me feels like we're just in America on vacation and that we'll need to go back soon. Some part of me feels so happy to be in America, and some part of me wishes I was still in Cambodia. It switches back and forth a lot which part of me is bigger.

We made such wonderful, hopefully life long friends out of both Peace Corps Volunteers and Cambodians. It's funny looking back now how quickly you make friends in Peace Corps. The joke is that they're government issued friends. But really, you're all thrust into this challenging situation together. None of you has any idea what it will be like, but still all having the drive to want to go see and experience. I don't think anyone can know what it's like to serve in Peace Corps without going. You all have something inside of you saying yes, I want to, and will do this. Maybe that's why you make friends so quickly. You all have that in common. All you have is each other pretty much from day one, from staging when you're leaving America, and together 63 people have to make it to Cambodia. They can split you up in villages and language groups, but you're all in it together. You're all learning and growing and sweating and uncontrollably pooping together.

Everyone has their own experience in Peace Corps. We all have different interactions with host families and host country nationals, but that moment you talk to another volunteer they just get it. They get it in another way that someone who has never served in Peace Corps can never get it. We don't even have to be from the same country of service, that moment you find out you've both done Peace Corps, there's an instant bond. They've gone through the same struggles as you, just maybe with a twist to them.

Peace Corps has been a life changing experience. It was the greatest decision for Hal and I. It's definitely not right for everyone, but it was right for us. It's hard to put into words how it has changed me, but it has, so much. It has changed my view of the world, and my view of change, and my view of what I want my life to be like. I guess the best way to describe it is, Peace Corps opens your eyes, in a very good way. It gives you the opportunity to do service in a sweetly unique way. It gives you the opportunity to get to know your small corner of the world so well, and to explore. I guess that's it. Peace Corps just gives you opportunities, and it's up to you what you make out of it.
Serving in the Peace Corps can be unbelievably hard and frustrating. It can also be unbelievably sweet and rewarding. You have to be strong to withstand those hard days, they often come more frequently than the rewarding ones.

 Serving in the Peace Corps requires flexibility. Things will never go as you plan them to go. You have to be able to take that change of plans, on a really bad day when it's 110 degrees and 90% humidity and the electricity just went out, and your computer battery can't hold a charge, and your family decided to make fire ant soup for lunch. That's just life. That's when you go take a cold bucket shower, climb into your mosquito net in just your undies and say "I love Cambodia" until you believe it.


Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

It sounds amazing... something you will never ever forget, something you'll tell your children someday.

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I'm so glad it was such a positive experience for you and Hal!

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