More than one year ago, on February 10, 2016 I received and in a freak out of massive proportions accepted my invitation to serve as a volunteer in Peace Corps South Africa. Amidst shrieking my excitement while at work (thankfully a crew that was incredibly supportive to my endeavors…holla UA Study Abroad!), I clicked a button that shifted my life in ways as yet unimaginable.
I thought I got it. I’d done plenty of Facebook, Instagram and blog stalking and continued to do plenty more before my departure in July. For so long, Peace Corps was the next step for me- to the extent that I simply *forgot* to apply for other avenues during my senior year. And, sigh of relief, it really was the next thing for me- but Peace Corps is so much more than a ticket across the world.
To any Trainees (PCTs) reading this, I want you to know that whatever you expect to gain from your Peace Corps experience, it will be so much more. I want you to know that no matter how many packing lists you hoard, you will inevitably forget things you want and bring things you don’t need… even if you cram two checked bags and two carry ons. I want you to know that Peace Corps isn’t just sunshine and kids’ smiles- it truly is the toughest job you’ll ever love.
Come into Peace Corps with the most open mind you can possibly manage, because the journey is transformative, if you make space.
So be scared, be terrified. Hug your family close, cry a bit, and stuff your face (and your bags) with your favorite foods, and then open your arms, step on a plane and embrace your new corner of the world.