I am about to give you about five hundred words of complete honesty about being a Peace Corps Volunteer. One of the most common phrases used to describe Peace Corps service is the hardest job you will ever love. You have some of the hardest days of your life as well as some of the best. You even have days that are your hardest days and at the same time your best days. So let’s get down to the ugly but yet beautiful truths of Peace Corps life.
1. There are days were you think that you are the worst possible volunteer.
Something that is true even outside of Peace Corps life is that we compare ourselves to others constantly. In Peace Corps it goes like this: This volunteer is doing this program at their school, they ran this camp and that camp, as well as teaching all of these classes, and even hosting dinner parties with their neighbors. Then you hear about all sorts of other volunteers doing similar things. This leads to you thinking that you are not as good of a volunteer. Usually, you are also one of the volunteers that others see and say wow they are doing that what am I doing I should do more so I am not a horrible volunteer.
2. No matter how hard you try you will never be that clean.
I say this because most Peace Corps Volunteers don’t have running water and are surrounded by so much dust and dirt. Host country nationals seem to always be very clean but since you aren’t used to bucket bathing so the dirt doesn’t fully come off. This goes to show that when you get a shower, especially a warm shower you spend 30 to 45 minutes in that shower and get the cleanest you’ve been in weeks. Let’s be real it’s also the cleanest you’ll be in weeks.
3. The food in the country is delightful, you are probably adventurous with food for a little while, and you crave American food like crazy and seek to find it every time you go to a major town.
Some volunteers cook more types of food than I do but the truth is most of us eat the same thing every day. The food in country is usually very rich and delicious but you honestly will always miss food from America. This leads you to finding western food any time you go into a town that has any sort of western influence.
4. Your weight will change.
I am not joking when I say this. Usually it is weight loss and not weight gain, but it depends on the person and you never know. However, you can be sure that your weight is going to be different in some way once you leave Peace Corps. I am a lucky Volunteer and have lost weight.
5. You will come out of this process having gain SO incredibly much.
You gain a set of friends that become family. They start as government appointed friends but then they become true friends and with time family. You gain a world of experience. Living in a foreign country is difficult, your job is difficult, but you learn skills at the beginning and you continue to learn new skills as your service continues. Lastly you gain a community that turns into family, and a country that becomes your home.
I just gave you some of the not so good parts of Peace Corps, but I also ended with the best part of service. I know that I made Peace Corps service sound somehow negative, but it has truly been the best 10 almost 11 months of my life. Why? Because they hardest days have taught me more than I will ever know about myself, my anxiety, and about this incredible world that we get to live in. I believe that it is important to know the negative because it gives you a little taste of what to expect although, be sure not to dwell on the negative, I promise you the good is so much greater.