Make America A Better Place—Leave the Country.

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November 13, 2012 by theloneblonde

Countdown until Departure—128 Days (4 Months, 8 days; roughly 18 weeks; 3072 hours; 184,320 minutes; or 11,059,200 seconds)

 

If you are reading this you may or may not have a vested interest in my travels and what I am doing with my life. But a quick re-cap, I am out to join the Peace Corps. I have gone through the entire application process, the interviews, the invitation stage, the medical/legal review (twice), and adding it all up this will have been about a three-year process. Apparently I applied on May 10, 2010 (where has the time gone!), I found an old email in which the last line after submitting my application was, “It will all be worth it.”

 

Though it was not really until today, which the idea of the entire process being worth something really resonated or even connected with my thought process. Before today, I have been sitting at home to an extent living in what I have always thought to be living in my worst nightmare… moving back in with my parents after graduation, and working for minimum wage in a position where no one cares if I have a Masters or not. When you move away at 17 (well move half way across the world in attempt to get as far away as possible from your “hometown”), and don’t look back for five years, the prospect of spending six months with your parents in your “hometown” is a little daunting to say the least. Not to mention I am living in their guest room. Yet today I realized there is a whole world out there, life is still calling and regardless of the fact that I am living at home, waiting for service, banging my head against the wall at North-Shore-Nancy-R-Us, I am still living my dreams and awaiting an adventure of a lifetime making it exactly where I want to be.

 

It may have taken four old guys over an unsuspecting breakfast to convince me that in life it’s all right to wait for things to happen. This morning I randomly found out (though my restless waiting syndrome—only cure googleing) that my community has a large group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV). The Milwaukee Peace Corps Association (http://www.milwaukeepeacecorps.org/mpca/), host events for prospective volunteers, families, and RPCVs. Sandwiched between some parents of a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Ukraine, and several RPCVs from around the world the conversations over breakfast one-hundred percent convinced me that this is what I am meant to be doing with my life even if I have to wait around to do it.

 

Over the years the Peace Corps has vastly changed, and at our table every generation of Peace Corps Volunteers was represented. From Nepal in the 60s, Thailand in the 70s, Nepal in the 80s, Turkey in the 90s, Georgia in the 00s, and me in Albania the 10s, the stories that came out were those that truly made me feel like I am part of a true movement. There was a definite juxtaposition of the old and the new, and the idea that overtime the world has become global.

 

Just the idea of how we were all invited into the Peace Corps between the generations was something to ponder about our global society. The RPCV from Nepal, who left in the 60s, was invited via telegraph. In which due to the fact the western union telegraph guy had never heard of Nepal spelled it as Naples on all of the volunteers official invitations. In the 70s you had to take a standardized test to enter into the Peace Corps, the test, which was similar to the GRE rated things like your ability to communicate non-verbally and reasoning in languages you did not have a background in. Then in the 80s everyone was under investigation by the FBI for security clearance, in which everyone’s neighbours and college roommates were contacted to make sure they were fit for service. During all of this Peace Corps training took place within the United States. So before you even left you were shipped off to somewhere for three months to better prepare you for life in another country? Glad that Pre-Service Training (PST) is now in country! Though if you were heading to Asia training was in Hawaii for three months, which may have been pretty nice!

 

Then I think about the fact that I received my invitation via email, which I received in England at the same time I was at a concert of a Portuguese rock band with some of my Chinese and British housemates, talk about a global experience right there. This was only hours after I turned in my dissertation about the possibility of the globalization of planning through mega-events (more on this in a later post). What is even crazier is the fact that not only have I heard of my country, I have had to opportunity to venture there previously. With the parting words of “I cannot wait to return.” Maybe it was meant to be, or maybe that is just the way it worked out.

 

It’s hard to believe that it really was in my parent’s generation in which travelling and being such a global citizen was not such a reality. The fact that I have been able to study on four continents, have adopted family in Brazil, and keep relationships with my friends around the world, and even serve in the Peace Corps in a country that I had the opportunity to visit, is amazing. I read a really interesting article on NPR recently which somewhat describes that I may actually be one the generation of globals (http://www.npr.org/2012/07/10/156463825/globals-generation-focuses-on-experience). Maybe not the most promising of futures, but I think I am a little bit more exciting then the featured article subjects.

 

The idea of travelling across the world for me has not really been as romantic as those before me in the Peace Corps. Though the idea of serving my country through global experiences and grassroots efforts, I think I will always envision being a romantic-esque effort. Over breakfast that morning I heard the efforts of those before me, which included hiking into remote villages to explain that there is a world beyond your town, which is something that even the people of Wisconsin sometimes don’t even grasp. This will be a challenge, and it will be a triumph, and there is something romantic in that. Though surely not everyday will be stolen from the pages of a Hemingway novel, or even Elizabeth Gilbert, because right now my life is pretty darn boring, yet when it is all said and all done, I think I have finally been convinced, “It will all be worth it.”

 

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