Peace Corps Volunteers are doing it. Volunteers go to Ethiopia, for example, to share the conditions of people who live in abject misery — no running water or plumbing, inconsistent electricity, crumbling hovels which scarcely afford shelter from wind or rain and no tools to rebuild them, and sharing those homes with little critters at night. Volunteers in Ethiopia find themselves as “saviors from America” and along with their community, deal with the frustrations on decision of the government. And still, they come.
But the volunteers move in and go right to work. They’re the original hipsters. They help build schools and teach hygiene, provide child care to mothers and offer all their capacities to elevate the lives of the people. They go in with too high of expectations and serve with such enthusiasm that it doesn’t matter if they crumble and fall.You will never meet a teacher and you will never meet a Peace Corps Volunteer who says they do it for the money. We do it because we love it. Our daily interactions, the growth we see and the relationships we form are why we continue our work.
As Sargent Shriver said, “the Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.”
You’re never really poor in Peace Corps — I had a laptop, an escape hatch, and a monthly allowance that, while small, was still almost half of the average annual income in the country. It only took a few months for me to see that I’d never understand the physical and spiritual reality of having grown up in a society that doesn’t care about you at all. Growing up in a society where you have to crawl your way out, and while I experienced it at a young age in Honduras, I didn’t live in Honduras my whole life.
You serve the best way you can, with the best enthusiasm and dedication that you can, all while hoping that things will get better. Then your two years are up, and you’re leaving the home that you grew to love, while anxiously awaiting for things to come in the developed world; hot showers, fast and reliable internet, streaming on Netflix, entertainment options out the wazoo, and spending time creating new memories with those that you love. But you get back and nothing is as you imagined it. So what do you do?
You find your enthusiasm and lead with a crusading spirit; one that won’t give up, but one that will forever remember your service. Adjusting to life, both in developing countries and in the United States are the same – you go with a want to make a difference, you work hard and hopefully, one day, you’re lucky enough to change someone’s life.