Let me first say, the mefloquine dreams are truly unreal. I had an amazing dream earlier that would make for an incredible plot to a sci-fi novel or movie. But then I woke up and was nauseated, so I couldn’t fall back asleep. Boo hiss. So I started thinking, of course, and I realized a few things that were worthy of a blog post.
But before we get to that. Can I just mention that while starting to type this very entry, I look over to my right side and see something move. Out of nowhere, the biggest cockroach I have EVER seen in my entire life waltzes out from some crack in my door. Hey asshole! I just cleaned my room, there isn’t anything tasty in here. I imagined how freaked out my friend would have been if he saw that cockroach. Little guy is hiding behind a wheel of duct tape, and he is the same size as the roll. Ha, not sure what this guy has been eating but he sure is a porker. How on Earth did I manage to have a ridiculously irrational fear of spiders, but cockroaches I don’t care. Well, except for that shit that just went down. No kidding while typing “cockroaches I don’t care.” The jackass runs towards me with lightening speed and I freak out. Probably because I’m up at 3 in the morning, I just took my Mefloquine last night, and paranoia is a side effect. Also, does anyone really want a GIANT cockroach lurking under their feet? No I don’t think so. So I stomped on that guy and he got attached to the bottom of my shoe, so I had to murder him senselessly to get him off my shoe. Now he is just chilling, VERY dead next to me. I don’t have the heart to shoo him away. But I am heartless enough to smash him into pieces. Alright just kidding, I shuffled him out of my line of site. No one wants to look at that. Aw great, now I’m going to have to wash my shoes AND my floor. Yeah well, next time his brethren will know better than to mess with a girl on Mefloquine.
Okay, back to my original point. I met the new trainees last week, but they came to my site yesterday. I was told to teach them about contracts, my project partners, and explain a little bit about my site situation. I realized afterwards that what I told them was probably a little scary. I haven’t exactly had the best site situation. I didn’t mean to scare them or to sound jaded, but it probably came off that way. Don’t you wish you could go back some times and just rephrase things? Luckily, I’ll have the chance to tell them this Wednesday. Are you ready for this? This is my personal Peace Corps philosophy, I’ve held onto this philosophy since the dawn of my Peace Corps time. 30% is your site. 70% is what you make of it. There will always be things you cannot change. There will always be people who don’t like you. Sometimes you will be put in a community that doesn’t really need a volunteer or maybe even a community that needs one so desperately, you couldn’t possible help them enough. You might not have electricity or easy access to water. You might have crappy transportation to your town. You might have to walk everywhere. Your original counterpart might be awful or they might be amazing. No matter what you do, there will always be variables you have absolutely no control over.
But that doesn’t matter, what matters is how you deal with them. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you are given the freedom to make your service what you want it to be. You can work on the original project you are given or you are free to create your own. You are given free reign to do what is best for your community. Okay, nothing related to the government is ever completely free reign, but you get my point. Despite my setbacks at site, despite the stupid stuff I’ve had to deal with, despite the corruption, I’ve still had the best damn year of my life. I feel like I have accomplished more in one year than I have in half my lifetime.
Even though my site situation makes me roll my eyes and growl, I have never once regretted my decision to join Peace Corps. Every experience we have in this life teaches us something, it helps us to grow. Now when I get asked in a job interview “tell me about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it” I can floor them with my awesome story of how I was faced with crazy circumstances, corruption, and people who were unwilling to change. I persevered because I saw the big picture. I know that this isn’t about me, this is about the people I’m trying to help. There are farmers in my community who want my help, they want my knowledge, and I want to give it to them. This is about them. I would gladly sacrifice tears and frustration if it means the farmers I work with have a chance at a better life. I’m not here for me, I’m here for them.
When faced with insurmountable odds and defeat, you truly realize your convictions. I’ve been dealt a crappy set of cards, but I’ll be damned if I don’t do everything in my power to win my hand. So while there are some cons to my service, the pros far outweigh them. I’ve been given the opportunity to work with a giant German software firm, I’ve made friends that I cherish with all my heart, I’ve discovered new things about myself and I’ve grown tremendously in the past year, I’ve tried new foods, I’ve been incredibly blessed to be part of a second family that treats me just like their daughter, I’ve made local friends who have changed all my opinions about Africa, and I’ve been able to work on a project that I truly believe in. I’m happier than I have been since I was a carefree kid with no worries in the world. I’ve found fulfillment.
This is my favorite adinkra symbol, Nkyimkyim it is associated with the proverb: The course of life is full of twistings, ups and downs, and zigzags.”
So to current, future, and prospective Peace Corps Volunteers – will you let the 30% control you? Or will you control the 70%?