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.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Being Young in the Peace Corps

My Peace Corps service is coming to a close.  Three months...and not necessarily counting.  I would like to say I have changed in so many ways--but that's not quite right.  I think my values have deepened and my understanding of the world has broadened.  I am the same person I was when I left the United States, with the ability to view things with different perspectives.  I am sure that a lot of changes within me will be more apparent when I get back to the states.

There is one thing I have been able to reflect upon lately--how this experience has uniquely affected me because of my age.  I finished my time at Brown when I was 21 and came to Botswana at 22.  I had about 11 months while I was working in between college and Peace Corps.  Some young volunteers have even less time than that.  And then there are volunteers who have PhDs already.  In our group, we had a volunteer who was even in his 80s.

Peace Corps is a growing experience for all of us--young and old.  But I think there is something particularly special about being young in the Peace Corps.  Although we have values and opinions galore, they haven't yet been solidified with years of work and life experience.  We are "green" as they say.  Botswana will always be a part of all of us, don't get me wrong.  But what I am beginning to see is that this culture will always be a part of me because I am forming who I am and what I believe within this country. I am becoming an adult in Botswana.  It will alter my life in ways that I can't even foresee yet.

For example, Bots 10 just attended our Close of Service conference.  In one session, we began to process what it may be like adjusting to life back in the states.  The country director (who was a volunteer in Cameroon in the 80s) talked about how people may want to call us to go places and do things, whereas we may find ourselves just wanting to stay home and read on a Saturday.  I am definitely identifying with that.  I can see myself telling friends I am home just hanging out.  That was never something I did before Peace Corps.

I like slowing down and am not quite sure what a conventional job would be like for me.  Sooner or later I'll probably get one and I'll cross that bridge when I get there.  But I am not too worried about the future.  I enjoy living in the present, focusing on a great book or a superb glass of wine.  I never want to walk passed a sunset without admiring it.  I want to savor things in my life, not rush through it trying to get to some unknown point in which I will have x amount of money and x status that will supposedly bring me some kind of happiness.  We can find happiness in every day.  Frustration, too, of course.  But focusing on the happiness is much more fun.

Being a Peace Corps volunteer has bettered me.  I am so glad I did it as a young woman.  I am looking forward to how my life will unfold from here on out.