The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love
My recruiter, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer himself, was tall and had a kind smile. “
Almost four years later, I find myself here, in
And it has been a “tough assignment” as well, as I think all PC assignments are. I would be lying if I said it hasn’t. Though my good days certainly outnumbered by bad days, some of those low points were so low, it was hard to remember the good. Many days, I wondered if anything I was doing was making any kind of positive impact on this country. After committing to a third year of service, I spent weeks wondering if I was completely crazy to want to stay and do this for another year. It’s very difficult to evaluate your impact when doing this kind of work, and with no one reassuring you, that innate self-doubt permeates one’s mind.
But this experience has changed my life in ways I cannot articulate. What I gained professionally during my three years with Peace Corps is definitely tangible, but what I experienced personally means far more to me. I was a wide-eyed 22-year old when I left for
And yes, some days, the suffering and sadness were tremendous. The media has certainly taken advantage of the human tragedies and wars and famines that do, in truth, wreak havoc in many parts of
I will remember the genuine smiles on people’s faces when I spoke to them in their mother tongue. I will remember the overwhelming kindness of strangers. I will remember seeing intense gratitude for the most simple of things. I will remember the angelic voices of singing children. I will remember hospitality of a level I have never experienced before. I will remember their honesty. I will remember seeing hope in the face of true despair. I will remember real smiles, products of pure happiness. These are memories I will carry with me forever. And having these memories makes experiencing all those low points of this “tough assignment” completely worth it.
I wonder how
Long ago, I abandoned the noble ideals that I had joined the Peace Corps hoping to fulfill. Whether they were unrealistic or whether I just failed completely at meeting them, I don’t know. And I don’t really care. Somewhere during this experience, I subconsciously decided that the best I can do here is put out more positive than negative, do more good than harm, make more smiles than tears, and foster more hope than hopelessness. I think I succeeded in doing these things.
And I hope when Namibians remember me, they will remember a person who did the best she could, where she was, with what she had.
Tomorrow, I leave
This will be my last blog post, so don’t bother checking back for the “oh-my-god-where-am-I?!” culture shock post. I like the idea of preserving this blog as a kind of time capsule of my time in
And so I dedicate this blog to them, my Namibian friends and family….
who brought color and richness into my life…
who helped me see myself, and the world, as they truly are…
who challenged my spirit and broadened my horizons…
who taught me the values of patience, strength and genuine humanity...
and who, most importantly, showed me how to find beauty in all things.
You will all be dearly missed.
“The good experiences will enrich her mind, the people and the land will give joy to her soul, and the difficult times will teach her who she truly is.” –Barbara Jean Myers