Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Musings on a year past

The Peace Corps just brought together the A-14 group (Armenia - 14th year) of volunteers to celebrate the half-way point of our service. It was a great time to relax, discuss and compare experiences with other volunteers. On top of that they put us up in a pretty nice hotel/dorm that had clean sheets and intermittent hot water. Thank you taxpayers. Mostly the Peace Corps Administration let us just relax and reflect. It was really quite useful and enjoyable.

At the half-way point I’m struck by how much different my experience has been from what I expected when I flew out of Sacramento Int’l airport over a year ago. I came to the Peace Corps drunk on stories of riding motorcycles across Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1960s and photos of squatting mid-westerners teaching some feeble farmer a different way of scattering seeds in order to increase the harvest. Thus far my experience has been nothing like that. Not at all.

But it’s not a bad thing necessarily. Of course I’m sure all the former volunteers with whom I talked before I decided to apply to the Peace Corps had romanticized their experiences as they drew farther from the present. And I can appreciate the need to show glossy romanticized pictures in the PC brochures. How else would you sell something like this to potential volunteers?

Upon reflection I’m currently concluding that my life isn’t all that bad. I get to at least attempt to be helpful to many people (usually unsuccessfully). I have learned a lot about Armenian culture and can communicate on some level with locals in their language. I’ve been able to successfully represent America to people who might not have had positive exposure to our country. I’ve not only made amazing Armenian friends, but also amazing friends of the other volunteers living here in country. Though frustrations abound, I’m learning to cope with them so much better than when I first arrived, and in the upcoming year I figure I’ll be so much savvier as to become more successful than before with my projects and relationships.

Conclusion at the half-way point: Not all that bad of a gig really.

Conclusion 2: easily the sappiest and most boring Blog I've ever posted. And that's saying something. Sorry. Please don't stop reading my blog.

1 comment:

THOMAS said...

It has been every bit of a long time since you left, Dom, but Dad and I will actually be able to see you and your Armenian "world in a month". I can hardly wait. Love you, Mom