From One Very Honest Volunteer

After hearing quite a bit of feedback from my most recent blog post I have
decided to talk a little bit about what I would like to accomplish with writing
about my experiences in the Peace Corps. Interestingly, I was thanked by
fellow volunteers for my honesty and they approached me about similar
experiences, yet my friends in America discouraged me from writing so
bluntly. Also, don’t forget the disclaimer that the views I discuss in my blog
are not in any way, shape, or form representative of the opinions or views of
the United States government, the United States Peace Corps or the country
of Thailand. I have a lot of respect for the previously mentioned
organizations and I am merely one woman talking about my particular
thoughts.
Some people have made comments that because my blog is public I should
focus the bulk of my blog posts on all of the positive aspects of my
experience as a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer). Or at the very least, put a
positive spin on them because that is what people are really interested in
reading about. Of course, I have also gotten the usual flack from my
conspiracy-theorist friends at heart that the government is watching me.
Well, in that case, I hope they are watching. Stick around my blog awhile
and you’ll love to see what you learn.
I know that I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to provide my
volunteerism in another country as an American, and I have worked very far
to get in this exact spot that I am today. Actually, up until the moments
before swearing in as an official volunteer on March 19th, 2012 everything
was still up in the air. The decision to be sworn in was one that took PCV
language proficiency and cultural awareness into consideration. If we didn’t
successfully acquire these skill sets we wouldn’t be sworn in as volunteers
and would then have to return to the U.S. Many people have the
misconception that the Peace Corps is an easy organization to join. I think
that if you talked any PCV you will find that this is about as far from the
truth as possible. I have never done it but am inclined to say that the
application process is easier and less competitive for the United States
military. But, here I am, two weeks into my official service. I did it.

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The Peace Corps has several goals to help bridge the relationships between
partnered countries and America. One of them presents itself through our
primary volunteer position, which is the exchange of specific skills with
communities in need. I am an education volunteer and I work with Thai
teachers to help them improve their student-centered learning practices and
English teaching techniques. Another one of the goals involves making
Americans more aware of the Peace Corps organization as well as the needs
our countries have. As volunteers we strive to teach Thais about American
culture, learn about Thai culture, and in turn, return the cultural exchange to
Americans back at the home front. This cycle truly makes the Peace Corps
one of the amazing organizations that it is. So many of my friends and
colleagues are eager to learn about my experience and I am more than
willing to share.
Since I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and a concentration in
creative writing, I use my blog as the means for communication. The most
difficult thing about writing is that not every day as a Peace Corps volunteer
feels like a success. As a matter of fact, PCVs live on edge for that one day
when all of our hard work will come together and we will finally feel those
small successes. A cliché quote we were taught is that PCVs plant a seed in
communities but we will never fully have the chance to see the prosperous
plant that will emerge. Some of us may work for two years and not have
that moment of feeling success until the days before our departure. This is a
very real scenario that we have to cope with during our service. In some
ways, I am lucky to serve as an Education volunteer because the structure
of school provides us with the feeling of productivity. The other half of PC
Thailand volunteers, CBOD (Community Based Organizational Development),
are faced with the laborious task of creating their own, unique project then
making it successful, efficient, and sustainable within their communities.
Talk about a challenge. All my heart goes out to them in their time of
planning and implementation.
The Peace Corps motto isn’t “The toughest job you’ll ever love” for no
reason. On my blog, I don’t want to spend two years talking about all the
positive things I experience everyday, because quite frankly, it doesn’t seem
like that. However, I guarantee that if you stick with me throughout these
two years, everything good will come from my service in the Peace Corps. It
all just has a very slow way of presenting itself. As one very honest
volunteer, I want to create a realistic representation of this life. I want to
walk you through my moods, walk you through my struggles and present
the struggles of my own community to you. I want to make America more
aware and I want to share everything I can with the world. But in that, I
cannot offer a positive spin on everything. That is, not until the moment a
situation comes full circle and I can shed more light on it. And hey, maybe
there will be a little creative writing along the way as well. So stick with me,
learn as I learn, watch as I grow, and hopefully watch as my community
starts to grow, too.

3 responses to “From One Very Honest Volunteer

  1. All I can say is GOOD FOR YOU. A blog is your place to post what’s on your mind, and during Peace Corps service that can range from the good, to the bad, to the ugly, and back again … all in one day. You need to use your blog for you. If you catered it to everyone back home and focused on only the positive, it wouldn’t be true to your experience. They wouldn’t be getting the honest story. If you focused on all the bad things, it wouldn’t be real either. Every day in Thailand is totally new and different and brings about a range of feelings, thoughts, frustrations, motivations, etc. I, for one, LOVE reading your blog and hearing the nitty gritty of what’s going on. That’s life. That’s Peace Corps. And it’s the “negative” things you’re writing about that make me want to come back🙂 Chok dii.

  2. This quote is perfect to describe my intentions:

    “I think ‘taste’ is a social concept and not an artistic one. I’m willing to show good taste, if I can, in somebody else’s living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite. Since his words enter into another’s brain in silence and intimacy, he should be as honest and explicit as we are with ourselves.” -John Updike

  3. Pingback: What a Bad Day Looks Like | Light Enough to Travel·

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