Thursday, September 5, 2013

Counting down

So today I booked my flight back to the US.  My permanent flight.  It is a bit odd, thinking that the roller coaster of the last two years are coming to an end.  I mean for the past month I have been looking for jobs and working on my graduate school applications, but buying the tickets for the flight let the reality set in.  I am almost done.  My last day as a PCV is in 36 days, then I get to add an R to the front of that acronym for returned.  And in 38 days I land in Chicago, and if everything goes well on the job hunt hopefully within about a week or so after that I will be moving to Grand Rapids for work (or at least interviews).

I know I haven't written one of these in the past few months, but besides the amazing vacation I took with Aunt Jackie, Uncle Ron and Alex, not much has happened.  My work is winding down, and I am just counting days.  But I thought I would take a few minutes to reflect on some of the things two years in the Peace Corps has meant to me personally.

Well first of all, I want to relate a little story told to me by another PCV.  She was telling me about her son who did PC a few years back in South America.  When he finished and got back to the US he hadn't changed that many of his habits, but he was much more conscious of them.  I think that is probably the best assessment I have heard of what Peace Corps does for you.  I mean I am not going to start bucket bathing in the US to save water, but when I shower I will be more aware of how not everyone has access to this.  It is one thing to study about inequality and lack of resources, but actually witnessing it and living with it is a whole different ball game.

Besides this wider perspective there are three distinct things that I want to thank Peace Corps for.

1.  Giving me time for personal growth.  I have done so much here that I would never thought I had time/ambition for (writing a novel, running a marathon, pushing my limits with bungee jumping and such), and now I know that I can achieve all that and more as long as I make time for it.

2.  Giving me a focus for my future.  I knew that I wanted to get a Ph.D. and eventually teach.  But I did not entirely know what subject.  Political science is a broad field and my time in Peace Corps has helped me narrow it to gender/gender roles and equality issues.  And now I have a narrow, focused program I am looking at for my graduate studies.

3.  Friends.  This is possibly the thing I will treasure most from Peace Corps.  Some of the people I have gotten to know here are going to be my friends for the rest of my life.  And you met such a wide breadth of people in Peace Corps.  I have friends here from my age group all the way to mid 60s.  Some are just starting their careers, some are ending and some just changing.  They are from all over the US.  In short, these are people I would have never met without this.  And now, some of them know parts of me better than anyone in the US does.  Just like some people in the US will know certain things about me better than anyone I have met here.  That is just the nature of the beast.  My friends here will be able to understand the trials, tribulations, and triumphs associated with Peace Corps service better than anyone since they lived through it with me.

Well, that is about it for now, I will probably only do one more blog post to close it out and that will come in just over 30 days at the end of my service!

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