When I first thought of joining the Peace Corps, the internet was just a twinkle of zeros and ones in Al Gore’s eye, the Apple IIe was the coolest futuristic gadget in my best friend’s basement, and I couldn’t even reliably tie my shoes. In other words, it was a few years ago.
“The toughest job you’ll ever love” commercials zoomed into my eyes and onto my impressionable young soul–touching in me a place that knew/knows “by the grace of God” was I borneth into a country of riches and opportunity. And by the gross of entitlement would I/will I squander such privilege.
Back in high school (before the internet!) I liked to raise my hand and volunteer to read Shakespeare (But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?). I liked to show ’em how the iambic pentameter’s done.
But for the Peace Corps? It was a long process, started on that earth-toned shag carpet in the mid-80s, head upturned to the television before it was a “screen”. A thing thought about for many years, but acted upon only after the late, great Dan Fritz and I had considered applying as a couple (but we didn’t) and I’d lost my other favorite person–my mom.
It was, simply, time to stop sitting on the carpet and apply. And boy, howdy, what an application process it was! Many people think it’s a matter of a simple hand-raised and POOF!, you’re a volunteer. I mean, after all, the word implies a certain amount of desperation on the receiving end. But, it’s actually quite the contrary. There are many–so very many–hoops to jump through, and for good reason. This “toughest job” won’t be for the faint of heart. But perhaps, just maybe, it is for the broken-hearted whose ticker is on the mend; maybe for the person who understands what it is to need and receive a helping hand; a soul who still seeks not merely “survival”, but “thrival”. It will, indeed, be an adventure. There will, for sure, be many trials…but, well, what else would one expect from–
“The toughest job you’ll ever love”…
…Because I have loved a lot. And lost–deeply. But there by the Grace of Life go I…so, I am “volunteering” for something I Must Do.
Ahead lies language learning (they speak Georgian, by the way–and no, it’s not Cyrillic–as if that would help, by the way–it’s not related to any other language); learning to live with others (I’ll be living with mostly Millennials–and Gen Z! for 3 months and then a host family); explaining why I’m not married (my husband is…how do you say…*მკვდარი?/dead); living without the glorious water-wasting American shower system…the list of comforts goes on. But I suppose, when I wasn’t busy not selecting the “easy way”, I selected the “not easy way”.
Hand is raised and it’s worth it.