I am very often asked why I joined the Peace Corps. It is never easy for me to give a short and complete answer, but for the sake of not wasting space or your time, I will try to do both. Life, in my opinion, is innately self-centered. We spend all of our time focused on ourselves; our interests, pleasures, goals, and our basic survival. I see nothing wrong with that because that is just life, but I wanted to take the opportunity before my life became filled with responsibility to devote a short period to something that wasn’t just about me. I also can’t deny the idealistic intensions either. I want to try to make a difference in the world. Maybe that’s ridiculous but why not give it a shot.
There are three main goals of the Peace Corps: to promote world pace and friendship through the service of American Volunteers abroad; to help the people of developing countries meet their basic needs; and to help promote mutual understanding among Americans and people from other countries. This seems like a good idea to me so I applied. It is a 27-month minimum volunteer commitment that can be very rewarding and also extremely challenging. I was definitely up for the challenge and looked forward to the potential for adventure.
Since I majored in Spanish and Latin American History I hoped to be placed somewhere in Central or South America. Instead I was nominated to Central Asia and was assigned to teach English as a second language in Turkmenistan. Turkmeni-what was my initial response but I did some research and soon grew excited about my assignment. I spent months preparing. I began learning Turkmen, studied the history and bought an entirely new wardrobe for the cold and conservative climate. By the time I arrived in Philadelphia for staging before departure I was really excited.
Sadly, my excitement was short lived. Within the first hour of our staging we received news that the Turkmen government no longer wanted our assistance and we were being sent home. Our program was canceled. Needless to say, we were all devastated. We were told that if we chose to continue with the Peace Corps, they would do their best to try to reassign us to another country as soon as possible. I had spent a small fortune and given up my entire life to do this. I knew I couldn’t give up.
Fortunately, the day after I returned home, the Peace Corps called me with great news. They had an opening to serve as a Community Health Promoter in Mozambique, Africa. I was thrilled! This was everything I had ever wanted and never knew it. I had always dreamed of visiting Africa but was intimidated and now I would be living there. I would be learning Portuguese; another Romance language that could be useful after completion of service. And finally, I was going to be entering the health field, an entirely new path for me with so many possibilities. I only had 5 days to readjust what had previously taken me several months. I had to hurry because my training group was already in Mozambique and I would already be a week behind. Less than a week after the cancelation of my initial program I was on my way to my new assignment and I was filled with so much enthusiasm.
And here I am, in Mozambique. Everything happened so fast. But every day I am so thankful to be here fulfilling a dream