Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Cousin S.

I talked to my cousin S. yesterday about her Peace Corps experience. She served in the '80s (I think) in what is now the Republic of Congo teaching math in French. Sue said it was the best experience of her life. She really made me feel like it would be a great option for me. She said that she's really happy that she didn't wait to do it, but served before she got married, had kids, had a good job, and had a Harley (she loves her Harley).

I haven't yet broached the subject with my parents yet. My excuse is that they're out of town now, but they'll be getting back tomorrow and I'll have to mention it sometime soon. They'll need time to get used to the idea before I start the application process.

I've been reading and speaking to a lot of former and current PCVs online and they all seem to love their experiences. The only thing that was hard for them, as it is for almost all PCVs, is being away from home for so long. They leave their families and friends for 27 months, not knowing how often they'll be able to speak to them - either over the phone, email, or through letters. In training they'll make new friends only to be separated from them after only three months. It's going to be hard. But, I think, if I can keep myself busy for the first several months I'm at my actual post, the transition will go smoother. Although it's always easier to say these kinds of things beforehand.

I think I've probably romanticized it too much though. While I don't have delusions of changing the world, I still see it as this great adventure, full of fun, excitement, and freedom. When in reality, it will probably be lonely, stressful and eventually I'll seriously question my being there. Many of the PVCs I've heard from have expressed their doubts about their work: Am I really doing any good? Am I just taking away a job from a local who needs this kind of work more than I do? Am I really helping anyone?

I guess you just have to put it into perspective though. If I help only one person learn something new, they can teach it to more people, and they teach it to more people. It's my very own "Pay It Forward!"

We'll see!