Why Peace Corps?
We’ve been talking about doing Peace Corps together since we fell in love back in 2009. As very privileged people, we have had the luxury of being able to throw around some cliches: we want to “give back,” we want to learn what “a life of service” demands of us, and we want to “rid ourselves of material possessions.”
More practically and more selfishly, we’re at a great time in our lives to go. Victoria wants to go to graduate school, but doesn’t know where she would like to go or what she would like to study. After working in “science” (healthcare research) for the past few years, she is eager to explore what work looks and feels like in the “humanities” (literacy education). Since we will be going to Uganda to work in education, Matt feels like he is furthering his career despite taking a detour from a more conventional path in American schools. Victoria’s never lived abroad, and we both think of ourselves as needing a widening of our American perspectives.
We felt especially like we were making the right decision when we began to feel like we were “settling” into our lives in DC. Finally comfortable in our jobs and basement apartment, we began to feel skittish and wary of a “settled” life together. We’re far from wanting kids or owning a home, and the Peace Corps feels about as far as we can get from that.
Additionally, while we know there will never be a grand reveal for the meaning of life, we think that by gaining geographic/cultural/linguistic/material/social distance (and some illusion of objectivity), we might approach clarity that may have eluded us otherwise. We value differences and hope to immerse ourselves in them. We also see value in trying to live as “simply” and “by necessity” as possible. While we might be taking all of these values too literally, we think it is worth 27 months of our (hopefully long) lives to find out.
Before leaving the U.S. for 27 months, we wanted to say goodbye to friends and family and see the country as much as possible. Also, ending our lives in DC was surprisingly emotional considering how excited we were for the next phase of our life together. Unfortunately, it seems that only once we were leaving were we able to say and feel all of the things we wanted to say and feel all along. The month we planned before starting with the Peace Corps allowed us time and space to process any hesitations we harbored over leaving our lives in DC as well as time with friends and family, and finally to confirm our sense of purpose with the Peace Corps. See a chronology of our last six weeks in the States below:
- Sept. 28: Move out of DC
- Oct. 1: Fly to visit friends in Chicago, IL
- Oct. 5: Fly to visit friends on Orcas Island, WA
- Oct. 8: Drive to visit friend in Seattle, WA
- Oct. 13: Drive to visit friends in Portland, OR
- Oct. 14: Drive to camp out in Redwoods, CA
- Oct. 15: Drive to camp out in Sonoma County, CA
- Oct. 16: Drive to visit family friends in Half-Moon Bay, CA
- Oct. 17: Drive to visit family in Los Angeles, CA
- Oct. 22: Drive to camp out with friends in Zion, UT
- Oct. 24: Drive to camp out with friends in Grand Canyon, AZ
- Oct. 28: Fly with family home to New England
- Oct. 30: Drive with family to Maine
- Nov. 2: Drive home to visit family in western MA
- Nov. 5: Drive home to visit family in NJ
…Needless to say, it’s been a curious month-plus for us. But it’s been a necessary time, too. As a friend told Matt, having this itinerary will hopefully allow us to be more fully present in Uganda knowing that we did as much as we could to connect with our people and country before leaving.
“So, are you ready?”
Not quite, although that always seems to be the case with any major life decision. We don’t know if anyone’s ever really ready to get married or have kids in the same way that we don’t know that we’re ready to go serve in the Peace Corps. We’re proceeding in a mindset of faithful ignorance; that is to say, we know we don’t know everything we should, but we trust that we know enough for it to be a mutually positive experience for us and those we are serving.