If you have five minutes, I would strongly recommend reading this article. Especially if you’re a Peace Corps Volunteer; if you’re a PCV, this article should be required reading. Check it out.
The author served as Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, and honestly shares about the failures of her service, and how her best efforts were sometimes fruitless. The article gave me a new perspective of Peace Corps, which was something I really needed. Lately I’ve been feeling like my presence here isn’t changing anything, and questioning what exactly Peace Corps achieves, in a quantifiable sense. The whole point of the article is that failure is part of Peace Corps service, and how you handle it determines the value of you service.
I want to share with you my favorite part of the article, in case you don’t have a minute to read it: “I survived two years in the Peace Corps. My proudest accomplishment during my time in Senegal, one that can’t be expressed on a résumé, is how much I grew up.” This sentence really hit home for me; just substitute the word “Ukraine” for the word “Senegal,” and you have my feelings exactly!
So maybe I’m overestimating what needs to happen for Peace Corps to be a worthwhile endeavor. Even if I never get my grant finished or funded, or never feel like my students are learning anything from me (English or otherwise), I’ve still made some lifelong friends and grown up a lot. Before Peace Corps, I was pretty much a spoiled child. I joined Peace Corps for the challenge and for the possibilities, and even if I fail here on a daily basis, I’m learning how to persevere, adapt, and survive on my own. Every day teaches me that I have enough strength to keep trying, and after a year in Ukraine I can definitely say that I’ve grown into a self-reliant woman. Its not self-confidence, but more like self-belief. I would’ve never known I had this inner strength if I wasn’t serving in Ukraine, and having to dig deep for the will and motivation to continue on in my work here when all I can think about is how easier life would be at home.
So I guess in the grand scheme of things, growing up and into the person I can be must count for something in the tally of Peace Corp’s worth in my life. And I still have a year left here— that’s plenty of time to change some of these failures into successes 🙂
And in closing, some wonderful words of wisdom from Iain Thomas:
“If nothing else, one day you can look someone straight in the eyes and say,“But I lived through it. And it made me who I am today.”