A lot of Peace Corps people joke about the American perception of what we exactly we do. The banter usually results in inappropriately lofty expressions like “changing the world,” “saving the world,” “spreading peace,” “saving babies,” “shaking hands and kissing babies,” “magic” etc.
The truth is: I have kissed a lot of babies (not in a weird way), and I might have spread some peace despite my boughts of sweaty frustration. And, although I never did this, I totally could have saved a baby if I had ever come across one that needed saving from drowning or touching a hot pot.
Seriously, if you’ve followed the blog, you know the glossy veneer of heart melting goodness is only as deep as volunteer organizations’ brochures hope it to be. Enough to get you involved.
The truth is the heart-warming gushiness is only part of the story. It’s not an incorrect perception entirely, just an incomplete one.
Peace Corps is, without a doubt, a great experience. Don’t get me wrong.
PCVs constantly say things like, “Those nine-to-fivers, the joke’s on them,” and “Can you really believe this is our life?” We know how awesome the opportunity is.
And sometimes there are babies. Just this last week, I went and painted an orphanage with a bunch of other PCVs for a bunch of kids that used to be babies (stop it, it totally counts).
I guess the point I am trying to make is that the perception and the reality of Peace Corps is something completely individual and unique to those affected by it. Community members here. PCVs. People back home. Me. We all carry this idea of what actually happened down here.
That’s the way life is, right?
I just hope I can get my perception into words for all of those jobs, dates, dinner parties, and hangouts I have waiting for me when I get home. An experience like this can definitely not be summed up with, “It was pretty cool I guess.”
Peace Corps recommends getting it down to three sentences. Two years. Three sentences.
Yeah, we’ll see about that.