The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

One of the More Enlightened Days

I have had some thoughts about the Peace Corps experience in general lately, but haven't figured out how to put them down on paper until now. ya go:

Peace Corps service shows you that there is a lot more to life than work and a paycheck, if you didn't know it already.  Many other experiences can also do this, but Peace Corps is one of the most effective.  You are forced to find fulfillment out of smaller things in life: the beauty in the sunrise, the relief that comes with approaching rain clouds, the carefree nature of children's laughter.  You can no longer define yourself by what you do.  Instead, what becomes more important is how you do it.  You realize how much you enjoy writing by candle light.  You actually meditate.  You read books you always meant to read, but never seemed to get around to before.  Peace Corps challenges your understanding of the world.  Through that, you emerge---the same as before, but oh so different.  You listen more.  You approach problems in a more nuanced way.  You observe without judgment and experience without reservation.  Who you are deepens and broadens.  You begin to see your well-being inextricably linked with the well-being of those around you.  On the worst days, you feel lost...pull-your-hair-out-, punch-a-pillow-, cry-at-a-sad-movie-just-to-feel-something-LOST.  On the best days, you think, "Wow...I may just actually be considered a member of this community.  How about that."  Every day, there are small fulfillments.  Maybe you learned a new Setswana word or mailed in your absentee ballot.  Occasionally you think someone may have learned something from you.  But being a Peace Corps volunteer means being humbled everyday with the knowledge that you may never see the fruits of your labor.  Because the destination is unknown and indefinable, you must be satisfied with the journey.  If you don't laugh at the absurdity of how long it takes to do ANYTHING, you'd go crazy.  You could come out of Peace Corps tired, frustrated, and happy to be ANYWHERE else.  Hell, you will probably feel that way periodically anyway.  Ideally, days with more clarity come.  And they tell you that you are part of something bigger than the daily grind.  You have been given an opportunity that few have.  It's not about being a representative of the United States.  It has nothing to do with John F. Kennedy or Peace Corps.  At the end of the day, your legacy is your own.  People may not remember any of your failed projects, but they will know that you cared.  And that matters.  Peace Corps gives you the opportunity to examine yourself.  After two years, let's hope you like what you find.


  1. What a beautiful piece Amelia. I could feel you, your journey, your day, your peace, your frustrations and joys. You have changed, you are so important to all those around you and to me. I love you with all my heart, Mama

  2. hi honey - what a timely reminder to me - all the same applies to my job, my work, my life. And I have been way too caught up in press press press - staff, kids, myself. Thank you thank you - Love, Dad