I wrote this 2 weeks ago but keep forgetting to put it online.
So there is one big question that I am dreading when I get back to the US for good. How was Peace Corps? I have come to the conclusion that this question is basically impossible to answer. But here, in this, my last and final blog for my time as a PCV, I am going to give it a shot.
First of all, when I joined PC way back in the day, I assumed that the end of two years of service would bring about some kind of cosmic moment where I finally understand the world. WRONG! In certain things I have gotten clarity, but in others I feel more confused. But I have come to the solid conclusion of, that is just how life works. You will not know everything, and really you should not worry about fighting that losing battle. Yes, I will always keep striving to learn new things, but I am not going to beat myself up over it. For example, during this time I have gotten clarity on how I want to focus my further studies, but I have gotten more confused on how the world works as a whole. And that is because each part is so unique, so different from others, that it is impossible to apply one theory to the whole. In fact it would be a disservice to each part to even attempt to do so.
Peace Corps in general was a series of ups and down (of the most extreme kind) that you work through day by day to keep moving on. Some days, weeks, months seem to fly by. Others seem to drag on for years. But in the end it is only 2 years, no matter what it feels like. And because of how time feels while you are in PC, your perception of the experience is skewed. Right at this moment, I tend to dwell more on the moments that sucked. That felt like they took years, simply because they are fresh in my mind. And I tend to gloss over the good parts quickly. This doesn’t mean I did not enjoy my experience, it just means that this is where I am right now. In a little while I will probably start to forget more and more of the bad, and remember the good with happier eyes. Eventually I will be looking at the whole experience through rose tinted 20/20 goggles. And once again, all of this is ok. It is understandable that I am jaded right now. I am on the cusp of finishing after two long years. So naturally I will focus more on the negative to help ease the transition back to the US as a positive thing. But I know that over time this paradigm will change.
But if I had to attempt to summarize Peace Corps in one word…well it would be weird. I mean, in what other scenario are you going to be thrown into another culture with a bunch of strangers who will come out of it at the other end being some of your closest friends? And you see so many strange things with these new friends. I have witnessed exorcisms, group mental health sessions, and cars hitting goats or cows just to name a few.
Despite all of the problems you may have with the country you serve and the protocol/government hoops/whatever else is impeding your service, you come away with a fondness for the country and the people. Yes, there will be things that infuriate you till you want to hit your head against a wall, but in the end you can’t help having a special place in your heart for the whole thing.
And that is ultimately what I think Peace Corps is all about at the end of the day. Despite all the problems, frustrations and failures you will still always cherish your experience (maybe not quite as much right after) and it will be something that is always with you. So I would say that in answer to “How was Peace Corps?” I would say that it was an experience that made a mark on me (for good or ill) that I will never be able to erase. It won’t control the rest of my life, but it will always be there, lingering beneath the surface.