Flashlight Friday—the day I shine a tiny little spotlight (a.k.a. flashlight) on a traveler who I admire.
Here’s a Peace Corps volunteer whom I have admired from afar. Her name is Heather Mangan, and she just finished her service in Lesotho. Unlike mine, which was a pretty straight-forward 27 months, her journey was a bit more eventful.
It took her almost 2 years to get her invitation, which was for Niger. After serving there for seven months, she and all the other volunteers there were evacuated because of terrorist activity in the region.
Two of our Armenia volunteers were in Niger when that happened, and they knew Heather. They got reassigned to Armenia. Heather got reassigned to Lesotho.
Heather has done an incredible job documenting her Peace Corps experience on her blog, “a story.” She posts often, and talks in depth about her relationships, her projects, and her feelings as she goes along.
Knowing how hard it is to stay disciplined in something like this, especially during Peace Corps, I give her even more respect and admiration for keeping it up and being so darn consistent for her entire Peace Corps service.
Sometimes while I was in Armenia, I would convince myself that posting four times per month was an incredible feat. Then I would pop over to Heather’s blog and see that she had posted four times that week! And she didn’t even have reliable Internet like I did! Mad props to Heather. She’s my frequency-and-quality-of-blog-posting-under-tough-circumstances hero.
I Like Her Writing Style
Amazingly, although her country of service is different and so many things about her experience were different from mine, I can relate to so many of her stories. There are some blog entries in particular that I feel like I could have written word for word, because I feel like I went through the exact same problems and had the exact same small victories as Heather.
For example, this post, “Constant Uncomfort,” sums up many thoughts I had as a Peace Corps volunteer. Just substitute “Armenia” for “Lesotho. Here is an excerpt:
“…I long for a satisfying career after Peace Corps (not to say this isn’t satisfying, just in a different way). I want to be good at my job again. I want to go to meetings and answer emails and feel productive at the end of the day…
“Traveling in Lesotho makes me anxious… A weekend at a friend’s can be exhausting with all the travel…
“If I went home tomorrow I would… have all the pizza and ice cream I wanted and could watch anything my little heart desired… I could take a nice hot shower, buy new clothes and get a nice haircut….I would easily settle back into my American self.
“…My life in Lesotho is a good one, but it is not comfortable. I am perpetually living outside of my comfort zone – whether it comes to coping mechanisms, my work or day-to-day village life – and it is exhausting.
So if you want another perspective on Peace Corps, you should definitely check out some of her archive posts from the past three years. And if you want to see how she readjusts back to America, keep reading her blog. I know I will, to see if she can offer any new insights for me about reverse culture shock.
What do you think of Heather’s blog? Does reading her entries help you understand some of the things I’ve been trying to tell you during my two years in Armenia? Are you as impressed with her as I am, for her tenacity, first in going to 2 different Peace Corps countries, and second for blogging so regularly?
Please comment below.
Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!
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