Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Peace Corps is Hard

I’ve wanted to say this for quite some time now, but never felt like I really could. I try to write about things that have shaped me, the positive moments that enlighten, but I am realizing, some time the shades of grey lead to a more, real experience, so here is it the moment of truth…

Peace Corps is hard.

Peace Corps is the hardest thing I have ever done. Being isolated from people from my culture, and thrown into another, which some cases have views that are poles apart from my core beliefs, like the treatment of women, or children with special needs, and trying to navigate through both these world, while staying healthy and more importantly…sane…it is hard!

So why do it? I have been asking myself this question for the past few months when the difficulties seemed too much, and I think I found the answer; those few fleeting moments of grace.

I experience a mess of emotions tangled within each other; loneliness, independence, anger, joy, disillusion, satisfaction but within all of this are the moments of absolute calmness and clarity, and near benediction, and that makes everything ok again.

The other day I had the one of roughest night of my life; dysentery, once again( I’ll spare you the detail I am sure you don’t want to know). I woke up unable to do anything for myself. One call to my mama, and she was by my side the whole day. She cleaned my house from top to bottom; scouring the floors as if the fiercer she cleaned the faster I’d get better. The whole day people flooded my house, helping cook, or to just say, “pole” (sorry). It was genuine humanity.

I also find moments like these with my students all the time. After finishing interpreting the constitution (which is being voted on August 4th in Kenya) to my class eight students, we finally had our election day. We had been learning about the how elections work in Kenya, the constitution and about the government. It all culminated in our mock election; I told them that it was going to be a secret ballot that not even I would know what they voted for, but that I wanted them to think for themselves. I made them pretend ID’s, had their names on lists, and had a voting box ready. All of them voted and I announced the winner. They were all very excited, and I could see them actually making connections to the material, current events, and their lives in the future. It was one of those rare moments teachers always hope for. After I was done with my lesson, my students thanked me for teaching them, asked me to stay, to continue teaching, which was a huge compliment.

While these moments are rare; they are very powerful, and are able to reenergize against insurmountable odds, ( culture, religion, gender, poverty) and are able to enlighten.

My Peace Corps service is coming to an end in the next few months; next term will be my last at Saint Luke’s. I will remember those moments with burning precision.