Last week I joined 4 other Return Peace Corps Volunteers on a panel to share our experience, along with a few words of support and encouragement, to prospective volunteers. It was during that time that I was reminded of how much of an amazing experience serving as a volunteer was. I’d like to use this week’s post as a recap.

My experience as a Peace Corps volunteer:

  •    was the most challenging and the most rewarding 27 months of my life
  •    allowed me to view America and Americans through a different lens
  •     helped me to gain an appreciation of cultural awareness and appreciation that no class could ever teach me
  •    afforded me an opportunity to SERIOUSLY nurture my love for reading; I read more books during my time      there than I have ever done in twice and maybe three times that same time span here in the US
  •    assisted me in (re) learning the value or community
  •    taught me the value of communal living and modesty — in both dress and living
  •    enhanced my maturity by leaps and bounds … I often compare 2 years of Peace Corps to 10 years state—side
  •    gave me an appreciation for bucket baths under the stars, daily market visits to buy fresh fruit, veggies and fish and time spans with no electricity
  •    exposed me to people — some of whom became lifelong friends — and places that I will never forget for the rest of my life
  •    … truly was the toughest job I will EVER love. I’m so thankful for my Peace Corps experience!

Obviously people travel and live abroad every day, but I stand by my affirmation that there is NO other experience quite like living in the community, learning the language, eating the food of your host family for 2+ years. To me, very few experiences compare to VOLUNTEERING to live without many of the conveniences of life here in the US. For me, Peace Corps was a life-changing experience that has cultivated the way I now view myself, America, The Gambia and so much of the world. How far are you willing to go???