To be honest, I’ve been planning to “be an author” since at least third grade, when Mrs. Ramos held a year-long contest to see how many Pages we could read. After reading a book, we would record the title, author, and book’s number of pages in our section of the Yellow Notebook. I remember having a stack of books on my desk, and asking, “Who has the Yellow Notebook?”, anxious to record that weekend’s total page count. The good books made me dream of being able to write that well. The bad books I just wanted to revise so other people wouldn’t have to suffer reading them.
I also wanted to be a teacher and play my violin for the class.
But let’s go back to the “being an author” part of this story.
Skip ahead to fifth grade, and reading an interview with Gary Paulsen, the author of “Hatchet.”
Paulsen said that in order to become a good writer, you have to read, read, read. I figured, “Well, I like to read. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be an author, but I may as well be prepared, if that ever happens. Plus, this part is easy.” So I read. A lot. (Not quite as much as Mrs. Ramos, who would walk down the street with her nose in a book, but I devoured books at pretty much every other opportunity.)
Skip to the present, and you have me in Peace Corps Armenia, wondering if there’s a way I can bring meaning and purpose to my experience, should it not automatically turn out to be fulfilling and rewarding and life-changing, and all that. I racked my brain for ideas of a personal project I could work on throughout the entire two years (actually 27 months) of my service. I wanted something that would provide a common thread to help me track my progress in some way through Peace Corps.
What could it be? Oh yeah, I planned to be an author “someday.” Finally, the seed from my 9-year-old subconsciousness has started to sprout.
Now you understand why one of the five goals I recently set for myself is to write a book about my Peace Corps experience:
- To give an intentional purpose to my service
- To fulfill this long-held dream of being an author
- To justify all the reading I’ve done in my life
What will this book look like? What will it contain? What stories will go into it? I’m still navigating my course here, so I don’t know for sure. But in part, I want to explore the reasons why other people decide to join Peace Corps, and relate them to my own experiences.
In order to do this, I enlisted the help of my fellow volunteers in Armenia. I have started asking them to share their stories with me about why they joined Peace Corps. I’m talking to them about their background before coming here, what things helped them make their decision, and whether they feel like they are fulfilling those reasons.
So this is the thread I have chosen to tie together my two years through this labyrinth of culture, language, and marshutkas. It will also hopefully provide me reason to get through the rough days, give me something to do on the boring days, allow me to explore things from a different angle, and equip me with courage to experience more, see more, and do more while I’m here, yielding fodder for the book!
Now, everything can be a story!
The research part of this project is far from finished, but I’m already gaining additional insight into what it means to be a Peace Corps volunteer. It’s an especially fun project for me because I’m hearing some really interesting stories AND getting to know the other volunteers better!
P.S. If you are a volunteer and want to be a part of this, please just respond to this blog with a simple, “Yes,” and I will continue correspondence with you, via email, phone, or in person.
If you’re not interested, forget about this blog post (at least until my book is published, at which time you can remember that I was writing a book, and you can buy it and read it).
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