Why would someone join Peace Corps? What motivation is there to give up your comfortable life in the United States of America to go to a developing or third world country for over two years, making a mere pittance of a salary, and bust your balls for a cause that the locals don’t necessarily believe in?
It’s a crazy idea. And what’s it all for? The United States gets informal ambassadors to go out in the world and advocate for them. The foreign country gets…what? Sometimes nothing more than grief, as they try to understand this weirdo who is trying to fit into their lives.
It doesn’t make any sense. Nothing about it makes sense. Yet every year, thousands of Americans take the oath and swear two years of their lives to serving a foreign country in Peace.
A Peace Corps volunteer is nothing to be revered. It’s not the romantic cultural journey that some make it out to be.
How do I know? Because I’ve been there. I’ve gone through the challenges of 27 months of service, and it wasn’t pretty. However, there is no way that you’ll believe it, as I spin my tale, because you weren’t there. Everything I say is going to sound exotic. Unique. Interesting. Exciting.
I want you to understand right now that it wasn’t. None of it was. I’m not amazing for having gone through it. There is nothing that special about me. I was just living a particular set of 27 months, as you were during that same time; mine just had a start and end date, while yours was a continuation of what you were doing before.
Mine just happened to be in a far-away country, Armenia, conducted in a foreign language, Armenian.
See? I’m already doing it—making my experience sound like it was above yours. Unfortunately there’s no other way tell the story. In order to let you know what happened, I have to point out the differences in our situations. That will give you a better perspective of it all, but only to a certain extent.
I need to dramatize it a little so you’ll feel impressed. Or sorry for me. But over the course of this story, please try to understand that your own life has its own adventures that could never compare to mine.
What do you think? Does it have the makings of a good story? This is the beginning of the book I started in November that tells the tale of my Peace Corps journey. Would you like to read more?
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