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Why do Peace Corps?

on October 25, 2012

 “When you seek beauty in all people and all things you will not only find it, you will become it.”

So what is like to have lived a year in America:

My top 10 major habit changes:

  1. I came to find I don’t like taco bell as much as I thought I did.
  2. I now prefer being under my covers than going out.
  3. I don’t enjoy eating out and try and usually avoid it because I feel weird when people serve me.
  4. I’m more frugal and can only justify purchasing something if I found an excellent deal.
  5. I don’t think travelling 20 minutes to 1hr is any trouble at all and may even consider it “close.”
  6. I appreciate the ability I have to work out every day and put healthy things in my body.
  7. My friends would say I’m better at talking on the phone, (I used to last around 10 minutes now I can talk for 30 minutes +).
  8. I wear some sort of Philippine jewelry or remembrance every day, even if it doesn’t match my outfit.
  9. I take much less time getting ready. Way shorter showers. And I am constantly aware of my water/electricity usage.
  10. I enjoy rules, specifically traffic laws.
  11. I’m not afraid of bugs*. And take great pleasure in this. (*American bugs).

The 3 hardest things about returning to America culturally:

  1. Feeling like I have so much when others have so little.
  2. Watching others throw away food or letting food “go bad.”
  3. Knowing that in America we have the freedom of education, the opportunities to learn, yet our academic competence level internationally has decreased. After being a teacher in another country and watching some kinds try so hard just to learn English, it’s hard to not be discouraged by the fact kids would rather play video games or watch TV than learn.

The hardest thing about returning personally

  1. The struggle with my body and the expectations I have for it to heal in the way I want it to, though it won’t. It has definitely made it the most challenging year of my life internally.

The best thing about returning personally

  1. Experiencing the changes in my relationships with my friends and family during my struggle and time away. The people who want to be in your life make time for you. I don’t put in as much effort as I used to with people who aren’t willing to match my efforts. I try and spend more valuable time with the people who also value me. For once I think I found quality over quantity. I have changed internally and externally, yet feel accepted you and supported. I have had a wonderful experience in returning home to a wonderful support group.

After 1 year of being back, Jaron Weston and Lysette Davis met fellow RPCV Kaitlin McGarvey in SF for a mini 269 Reunion Party. It’s wonderful to feel connected to another RPCV.

In Peace Corps, your job is to see beauty in defeat. To see progress in minute changes. To see beauty in yourself, so that you can help others find the beauty within themselves. Sustainability is of course the ultimate goal, but not so much with the projects, but with the people. How did you affect a person? Whether at home or abroad, your Peace Corps service changed someone or something.

My Peace Corps service is still affecting me, still changing me and still changing those around me.

On October 25th, I flew home to America, meaning I have now been home for one entire year.  It’s shocking, it doesn’t feel like it. I still have the taste in my mouth of burning trash. I still feel challenged by my experience. I still feel connected to the place I used to call home.


My Last Day of Peace Corps Story:

At this time a year ago I was dancing and singing my lungs out at a Black Eyed Peas Concert. I had just enough pesos left to buy tickets to the last show on the Black Eyed Peas tour. I had less than 10 hours left in the Philippines and it was time to make the most of it.

Without realizing it, I knew every song. Their songs had been blasting during my runs, bike rides, from karaoke at 3am to 5am fitness time at the plaza, it was easy to sing along. I remember looking around and thinking, this may be the last time I am taller than 75% of the people here. The farthest back from the stage and I could still see over people. I felt one with the crowd and with a few PCV’s we danced and danced. As they played their last song the audience sang the same chorus over and over.

“I’ve had the time of my life and I’ve never felt this way before,

And I swear this is true

And I owe it all to you.”

Then everyone began chanting,  “I had the time of my life… I had the time of my life…”

And just as quick as it began, it was over.

Peace Corps was over.

Peace Corps Philippines has a tradition when finish your service, they ring a bell. When that bell rang, it sent chills down my body.  Was Peace Corps really over?

To those of you who are finishing up service, travelling the world, or already made it home. I’m here to say that your experience never ends. Peace Corps redefines the places in your heart and soul that you didn’t know needed redefining. Whether it’s the appreciation of hot food, a warm shower or a bug-less bed, you learn to appreciate the things you didn’t see before.

I think that Peace Corps doesn’t just teach you to grow up; it teaches you to grow in.

Congratulations to those who made it to COS of batch 269 Philippines. I certainly wish I could have been there!

Thanks for reading,



2 responses to “Why do Peace Corps?

  1. Ellen Davis-Zapata says:

    I have been returned 18 years and I continue to incorporate the changes of my PC experiences into my life. I love what PC did for me. Congratulations on achieving these lifelong habits and attitudes. e

    Ellen Davis-Zapata 1-510 527-8314

    Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 03:21:07 +0000 To: ellendavis_z@hotmail.com

  2. Molly Martin says:

    Thank you for writing this- good perspective to those of us who are returning home now or will with in the next year. Glad to hear you are well. Have missed you the past year.

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