Thursday, December 6, 2007


I am often asked about why I joined the Peace Corps. Sometimes it is in the form of a friendly question and sometimes it is accompanied by the same look you give someone who tells you they are going to go skydiving. It's a bit of a difficult question for me to answer, not because I don't have a reason, but because the real reasons are often hard for others to understand. 

There are a lot of practical reasons to join the Peace Corps. I get to differ my student loans, get priority for government jobs, and it looks really great of a resume. I spent my academic career talking about other cultures and about global issues. It makes sense that after I have graduated, I should go out into the world and experience that which I have spent all that time talking about in school. All those things are true. I want to travel, to have an adventure, to help others. All those things are extremely important to me and a really huge part of who I am as a person.

Honestly? The real reason I wanted to join the Peace Corps is less tangible than that. It is very hard for my to explain to others, but joining the Peace Corps is just something I know I have to do. You could say it was the call of God, you could say it was destiny, you could say it was the universe nudging me in the right direction. The truth is, I just feel it. 

One year ago I never would have considered the Peace Corps as an option for myself. Going to South Africa really changed things for me. Spending time in those villages and townships really opened my eyes to new possibilities. I felt like I had finally found someplace where other people understood who I was. I wanted to stay there forever. If I could fit in South Africa, there has to be other places like that in the world. Suddenly, it didn't matter where I went, I just knew I had to get out of here. When I got home from South Africa, it was so clear that the Peace Corps was the only option that made sense for me.

So here I am, exactly one month before my departure. Sure, I'm nervous. Really nervous. There are a lot of unanswered questions about what my experience holds. In truth, it really doesn't matter to me. I know the Peace Corps is the right thing to do. It can be as bizarre and spiritual or as simple as you want it to be, but its the best answer I can give. 

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