Why did I leave my home country, my family, my friends, and career/dream job as an environmental and sustainability consultant and engineer in Washington, DC, to serve in the Peace Corps?
No seriously, I’m not just being a smart ass…there are actually so many reasons I chose to embark on this adventure, it is tough to know where to even begin. So I will start with my childhood…
I have wanted to serve in Peace Corps my whole life – ever since I learned about the concept of Peace Corps, I knew that was something I wanted to do. (I think I first learned about it from Mary Quijano, my high school best friend’s mom who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras.) And as I heard more about it throughout my life – reading about my friend Toni’s experience in Bulgaria while she served there, meeting Peace Corps volunteers working in El Salvador and Cameroon, and meeting so many great Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in DC, I only grew to respect the program more, and my desire to serve only grew. So it was never a question of, “Should I do this”, but rather, “When should I do this?”
But, to be clear, everyone in Peace Corps has their own unique reasons to serve, and the reasons vary greatly. Probably the only reason not included is the desire to make a lot of money, (although it is a good resume-builder so that maybe in the future one could make a good salary.) But they call us volunteers for a reason – we don’t get a salary, we get a stipend that allows us to live comfortably in the towns where we live – we have food, shelter, means of communication, and a little extra spending money every month. We are not putting money towards our retirement plans during these two years, but we are instead investing in personal growth, relationships, and life experiences that will never be impacted by the stock market, and will enrich us throughout the rest of our lives in a way that money can’t buy and words can’t explain.
But as I said, everyone has their own unique reasons to serve, and I will try to explain some of my reasons throughout my future posts.