Peace Corps first came up when a recruiter came to my college campus and held an informational meeting. I was only a sophomore, but the idea took root in the back of my mind as a potential plan for after graduation. I ended up spending more than a year abroad during college, studying in Ireland, Ecuador, and Egypt. I loved living abroad, and during my time in Cairo I met a Peace Corps Volunteer who was working in Ethiopia and having the time of his life. His work seemed really meaningful, and our conversation stayed on mind even after I returned to the US to complete my final semester at college. It was during this time that a friend recommended the book Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller. I was feeling academically burned out, and so ready to be finished with college and onto the part where I actually got to live life. At this point I had a choice to make; it was either time to start applying for grad school and real adult-like jobs, and continue down the path I was already on, or take the chance on the unknown and fill out the application for Peace Corps.This book gave me the inspiration I needed to chose the adventure of Peace Corps, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. Here’s an excerpt from the book, my very favorite part:
“This is from where the story stems, the stuff of its construction lying at our feet like cut strips of philosophy. I sometimes look into the endless heavens, the cosmos of which we can’t find the edge, and ask God what it means. Did You really do all of this to dazzle us? Do You really keep it shifting, rolling round the pinions to stave off boredom? God forbid Your glory would be our distraction. And God forbid we would ignore Your glory.
And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you: leave.
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
—Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts