Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Anniversary Thoughts


Today marks the first anniversary of becoming an actual Peace Corps Volunteer, PCV. It is the day when the Peace Corps Slogan of “The Hardest Job You Will Ever Love” becomes reality.

“The Hardest Job” part seems at first self-evident. You live in a third world country without the readily available stuff you have grown to accept as your birthright. You are the stranger who must find ways to adapt to your new world. There is no scale to measure “Hardest”, but soon you begin to understand that it is or will be unlike any other job you shall encounter.

As for the “Love” part, I love it. Love, of course, can be fickle and metamorphose into many different forms. Maybe it is duty, obligation, or challenge that keeps one going, but in the end it is because you love this job.

The Peace Corps has three goals often buried in the thousands of paperwork pages.
- To help other people on interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
- To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
- To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of people served.

The first goal has some measurability to it and is often thought to be the most important because you can write reports about projects. This is the world of Peace Corps Staff. It marks being accountable to justify Peace Corps existence.

The second goal is like looking into a bowl of Ramen soup. It tastes good and is good for you, but you don’t know where the noodle begins or ends. You just spoon in and start eating.

In my case, the third goal is probably best answered by Samoans. They must wonder why I write my name on constantly disappearing pairs of flip-flops. However when I hear Niko, or Pisikoa, or kapisi (cabbage) spoken when I go by, or when a new visitor asks where I live and is proudly escorted to my house, I know something good is happening.

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