In just about ten hours, I will learn where I am being assigned to serve out my two years in the Peace Corps. Up until August 2, all of us are classified as “trainees,” not yet sworn in as volunteers. Today we find out where we are going on August 3 as newly minted PCVs: who are work partners are – i.e. the agency or public administrative office that requested us – and in what village or city we will be serving. As you can imagine, we are all very anxious.
Even though we signed up for this particular adventure, training has served to derail a great deal of that fervent and headstrong belief that landed us here: that intense hardship and pervasive loneliness can ultimately be surmounted and survived, successfully, even brilliantly. Through the past month, we have bonded together as a tribe in that primal manner we humans typically do when faced with new and foreign circumstances. We laugh together, cry together, celebrate together, and lean on each other a great deal. The fact that we will be dispersed throughout the country in the next month to begin separate journeys is more than a little daunting. But then again none of us traveled all this way to live in an American commune….
Patty, the young woman that is filling in the “daughter” shoes for me during this time, voiced a profound thought for me the other day. She said that she has always just tended to keep her focus on the immediate and just “keeps doing that thing that I am now doing,” and that gets her through a lot. That’s actually exactly what I have done most of my life (sometimes that’s been good – getting me through graduate school and raising a wonderful child, sometimes, admittedly, not so good – keeping me working at a job I should have left way before I did.)
I expect that the next two years will be one of my greatest adventures in life. It will have its difficulties, of that I am sure. But I am also pretty sure it will present me with unimagined surprises and a profound sense of my own inner resources and resiliency. I will make new friends and immerse myself in a strange and ancient culture. I will speak a new language and surmount obstacles I would never face back in America. Most assuredly, I will survive. But what I really want – and expect – to do is THRIVE. I know all of you are behind me and that helps my mental fortitude a great deal, believe me. But in the end, it always comes down to the self alone. Of what mettle am I made?
This is where and when and how I find that out.
(This blog post scheduled for review and update: July 2014…)