13 juin 2012
Well…I’m back in Burkina Faso now. After a lovely 17 days overseas, I’m back, and life in the Peace Corps begins anew.
So what does that mean, exactly?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I suppose I should say that it means that I pick up with renewed vigor and determination, and that I begin to execute a long laundry of plans that are already laid by and just waiting to be acted upon, but that wouldn’t really be true. I do have a sense of renewal, and I do have a long list of things that need to be done, but I’m not at all sure that just diving in and tackling them is really the best way to go about things.
While I was away, I had a lot of time to think about myself, my plans, and my service, and to pick apart what went right, what went wrong, and what I might do differently if I had a second shot. My conclusions were:
- I’m pretty happy with the direction my service has taken so far, and there isn’t much I would do differently if I had to do it over again
- I feel confident I can continue as I have been doing for the next 18 months, and be just fine
- I in no way want to continue as I have been going
If #3 sounds like a jarring conclusion to draw from #’s 1 and 2, allow me to assure you: it is no less jarring to you than it is to me. It sounds crazy to say ‘everything has gone pretty well so far, therefore let’s stop doing that entirely’, but that’s exactly how I feel.
Why is that?
It’s difficult to explain. My service has been absolutely fine to date, but it hasn’t in any way lived up to my own expectations. Which is odd. I would have thought that to be impossible, because it’s an unfortunate truth of life in West Africa that, in order to get anything done, you have to continually revise your expectations downward. I had already set my expectations so low that I didn’t think they had anywhere to go.
But I was wrong.
I think I am revising my expectations, not further down, but further up. I want to do more, not less, and I want that more to be more technical, not simpler. I want to study more language. I want to do more secondary projects. I want to have less free time. To date, I would say my service has been as busy, or busier, than that of the average volunteer, but if I can’t do more I may have to do a…reassessment. Yes, I can entirely continue to get by on nothing but simple projects that directly aid the community, but those projects make me feel like a fraud. I get nothing out of telling people to wash their hands, and then reporting that as an individual sanitation sensibilization. Yes, that counts as work to PC, but it doesn’t to me.
And that’s just it, I think: to date, I’ve spent a lot of time learning, observing, and participating, but I haven’t spent much time being me. I either need to find a way to do that, or I need to find someplace else to do it. I’m not saying I want to quit – just to be clear: I am in no way saying I want to quit – but I’m definitely saying I want to do more.
That’s a good thing, right?