Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why Did I Do This?


            Why did you join the Peace Corps?  Why did you want to go live in a foreign country away from family and friends and without the comforts of American life?  Why did you commit two years of your life to volunteer and make no money?  Why?  These, along with an array of others, are questions I was presented with by family, friends, and, at times, myself when I was in the process of applying to the Peace Corps. 
            It seems like a life time ago, and in a sense it was, since I started writing my application for the Peace Corps or even from when I came to Madagascar a mere nineteen months ago.  Though I have at times had to reassert my ‘why’ during the duration of my service, many of the ‘whys’ has
stayed relatively the same since I first thought of applying.  I can not say that all the reasons were high and mighty or that none of them were fully self-serving; but in truth who can.  For starters, my whole life I have always had a love for traveling.  I have always wanted to see other places, see the world, and experience something new.  I have always felt at home wherever I have found myself and I knew this would be no different.  Peace Corps allowed me to experience this; to live in a foreign country and in a new and different way of life. 
This question of ‘why’ lies at the heart of whom I am as well.  Cultural Anthropology, my first degree at university, is something I love and practice in my everyday life.  I am constantly observing the life around me and wondering what the meaning of it is.  Serving in the Peace Corps gives me the opportunity to live among a different culture for two years, to live the life of those around me, and to observe, learn, and ask questions about how and why the people believe and practice the way they do.  Religion being one of my focuses in Anthropology, I am also given a unique experience to see how the Malagasy people have blended together two very different religious thoughts into one way of life. 
I have yet to say anything of service, but it is of course at the crux of the idea behind Peace Corps.  One can volunteer anywhere and can be as much or as little invested in it as they want.  Serving in the Peace Corps allows one to delve deep into volunteerism like no other organization offers.  When I first thought of applying for the Peace Corps I liked the idea of serving abroad, using the knowledge and experience I had gained through life to help others, and increase and gain new experience.  
Reading the reasons of ‘why’ I joined might somewhat seem like my life path was destined to flow through a Peace Corps service at some point.  I feel that though is far from the truth.  I had not heard of Peace Corps a year before applying and to this day I have no idea how the knowledge of it came to me.  I was working as a Pharmacy Technician for years before applying and had just finished my Masters of Education in Teaching degree.  I was not happy in my job, that is for sure, and it was somewhere during the process of working on my Masters degree that the idea of Peace Corps came to me.  I can easily confess that leaving my old life behind was no real struggle on my part; it was something easy to part with.  Though pointing to the reason for doing it was something else.
I must say that when it came to me it stuck like nothing else; it is what I strived for.  I gave up everything that might stand in the way of me being accepted.  I became what I wanted to be and what was wanted of me as Peace Corps Volunteer.  It became fully what I wanted, what I wanted to become, and what I wanted to be; even though I knew very little of what it was.  I wanted to serve. I wanted to teach.  I wanted to make a better life for as many people as I could.  I wanted to make a change in the world. 
Changing the world is a massive undertaking and as mere mortals we can not do that, but we can make our mark.  And this is what I set out to do; to make my mark.  To make a change in at least someone’s life.  We can not change the world, but we can change someone’s life that then can make changes and change someone else’s life who can continue the trend.  My service and what I do will not bring me glories and will not be known outside of my town, family, or friends, but it will make changes in this world, no matter how small they are.  It is my only hope that the ripples of these changes flow as far as possible and affect as many people as they touch. 

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