In case you’re still out there reading, and you’re waiting for the post in which I reflect in a meaningful way about my service in Ukraine…I hope you’re willing to wait a little longer. It’s not that I’ve forgotten or gotten side-tracked — I just can’t put it into words yet. But I’m sure the day will come that I will be able to express my thoughts and feelings. But in the meantime…I want to share a poem (by Meleia Eggers, RPCV Malawi) that sums it all up better than I think my entire three years of blogging ever could. It also hits on some of the biggest challenges that I’m dealing with right now — getting over Ukraine and going back to life in the States. I’m not sure I ever will get over Ukraine — I still can’t even think about it without crying; not to mention talk about it in a coherent, reflective way that answers the question “So how was it?”
It was everything.
So while I myself can’t even come close to answering that question – hopefully this poem will suffice for now.
50 Years of Peace Corps: A Message for Soon to be Volunteers
The Peace Corps, is a twenty-seven-month-long-commitment,
Little do you know, you are in it for life…
It all starts with that spark from someone, “Uncle Dave served in Peace Corps and he loved it”, “Do you know they work in Thailand?” or the best and the most simple, “You would be great in the Peace Corps.”
It’s the highest compliment, the deepest calling.
And then the paper trail begins, blazing a path through a dense bureaucratic network of uploaded dreams and poorly stated ambitions.
We trace every spark,
believing it will one day lead to a full fire of intention.
Really, it’s your first endurance test, and it is not a smooth process
When volunteers start, their minds are wrapped around 1,000 different words for help, ….empower, assist, aid, facilitate, uplift,
yet no idea how to use them in a sentence. Let alone in life.
Yes, we open borders, but more importantly, minds and hearts.
Winning them, earning them, with the skills of our training and the purity of our efforts.
This is something those who are new to the family realize, and eventually, eventually, 9-12 months eventually….
You will go forth from this time, and this place, toting all that you can carry of your past life and loved ones.
Never, will you feel more alive – it will surprise you.
It is a progression of connection…
at first, you are in your head and it’s
American, meets other.
Then you get more grounded, and
volunteer, meets villager or teacher, meets student.
And then, if you are lucky, the simplicity settles in, and it’s
human meets human,
heart to heart.
It’s all right there. It’s tucked into the humble corners of each day.
Two years- will fly by.
Watch carefully or you might miss it.
and it’s gone….
you will leave those same coveted, carefully packed objects turned artifacts in the fault lines of all your cultural earthquakes.
you come back.
You are returned volunteers, never former, and you try to trace the patterns of home and you stumble, and get dizzy, and people from the place you once knew ask ….
How was Malawi? Ecuador? Mauritania? Poland?
How was Nicaragua? Mali? Panama? Vanuatu? Romania? How was Tanzania?
And what did you do there?
and you will pause…
“I changed the world.
I changed myself.”
It’s been 50 years of sweat and smiles, moments and memories, adventure and admiration, respect and realization
and waiting and waiting and waiting,
It’s been 50 years of imagination and inspiration.
Fifty years on paper,
but we are a part of so much more.
We bring hope to the forgotten corners of the world,
and find peace at our core.
RPCV Malawi 2008-2010