What is wrong with me?
I tend to think this question to myself every couple days, especially when I’m sitting on my couch, watching Netflix, scrolling through my Instagram feed, and have a belly full of craft beer and Pad Thai from one of the many restaurants just down the road. For some Americans, it’s hard to leave a life like this where amenities are around every corner.
Me: I’m crazy. My uncle: No, you just like to suffer.
In two short weeks, our life will drastically change as we begin our Peace Corps service in Guyana. There is nothing wrong with the life I have now, but sometimes there’s more to life than how many Instagram followers you have (although I could always use more – @inanydirection) and how much money is in your bank account (could use more of that too though).
I believe many people think “what the actual f*** is wrong with her?” when I tell them we are leaving for the Peace Corps. These people are usually the money worshipers. I mean I worked hard for my stacked resume so I could get into the Peace Corps, Susan. They don’t just choose everyone that applies. So just get off my back and worry about your own bank account.
However there are many people who claim to have always “wanted to join” or are “jealous” of our upcoming service. These people are usually the hippies that can’t put down their kombucha and parent’s credit card long enough to even know that a Peace Corps service is a sacrifice and not a hippy dippy travel excursion. But I sassily digress.
I’m not going to discuss why I want to go into the Peace Corps because I’m tired of explaining it. If you really, really want to know why, I recommend reading my motivation statement that I wrote for my application. It’s way less sarcastic and humorous than my blog posts though (apparently the American government prefers that).
We are unsure if we will even have electricity, let alone internet, so we’re mentally preparing for the change.
With only two weeks until our leave date on June 10th, Ryan and I predict what our life will be like in Guyana as we prepare our packing list. As Community Conservation Promoters in the Environment sector, we will be primarily working in a school co-teaching science classes for grades 3rd through 6th, so we must dress the part while also dealing with the hot, humid and often rainy weather. We are unsure if we will even have electricity, let alone internet, so we’re mentally preparing for the change.
I thank the Appalachian Trail gods for giving me the wits to know how to pack for a trip like this. Maybe I still have my hiker swag from our 2013 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, but our packing list is pretty solid.
I’m spending these last couple weeks maintaining my sense of “self.” I’m already changing careers and countries, but I don’t want to change too much of who I am. As I know some of our fellow Peace Corps volunteers are young twenty-somethings fresh out of college, I remember how impressionable I was at that age. Now in my late 20s, I feel like I know who I am more than ever before.
After years of travel, a marriage, and a business under my belt, I’m so happy that I’m no longer that young 20-something seeing this as an “adventure.” I’ve had my adventures, and now I’m ready to put what I’ve learned to the test.
I’m getting asked a lot if we are “ready.” Well, we moved all of our stuff out of our apartment, we canceled recurring expenses (farewell Spotify, I will miss you), and we are close to finalizing our packing list. On paper, we seem ready. However it’s the mental readiness that I’m not so sure of.
I have mentally prepped for this, I think. I guess if you consider me repeating the mantras “it’s going to be different” and “embrace change” and “go with the flow” as being mentally ready, then I’m good! I’m going to try to walk into pre-service training, which occurs the first few months that we’re in Guyana, cool as a cucumber, like a cool cat, like a chill pill? Yeah, I don’t know, I’m literally already the opposite of cool with that sentence alone.
After reading other Peace Corps volunteer blogs and perusing reddit like a mad woman, I have been informed to not walk into the country trying to “change” things right away.
Because change doesn’t happen overnight, or sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. I don’t even want to have a philanthropic point of view, like all I think is, “wow, I can’t wait to make a difference and make a change.” My Peace Corps service isn’t one of those cheesy inspirational memes, okay?
My favorite Peace Corp joke:
“How many Peace Corps volunteers does it take the change a light bulb?”
“None. Peace Corps volunteers can’t change anything.”
I could choose to be angry at that joke, but I’m not that kind of person. It’s called humor, Susan, and it’s necessary to survive a Peace Corps service. However, I do believe that Peace Corps has made quite an impact on the world since it was first established by President Kennedy in 1961. But I do believe it has been so romanticized by people back home. All I’m saying is that Peace Corps is more than just cute pictures with school children.
I do believe that Peace Corps has made quite an impact on the world since it was first established by President Kennedy in 1961.
I’m excited to share my knowledge but I’m also looking forward to learning a lot too. My first goal is to make friends, and we’ll see how the whole “creating change” thing happens once that first goal is accomplished.
During these last two weeks in America, we’re going to travel, stuff our faces with our favorite foods, and continue to remind everyone that we’re going to Guyana in South America instead of Ghana in Africa (because Americans seriously hear a country that starts with a “G” and immediately think Africa. It’s bizarre).
But hey look! I’m already making a difference in your life right now by informing you that Guyana is in South America instead of Africa. Looks like I’ll be preeeeetty good at this whole Peace Corps volunteer thing.
Disclaimer: I swear I’m nicer and less sassy in person. Or maybe not. Now I’m doubting myself. Nope, just kidding, I’m just as sassy.