I know most of you read my blog to hear about my latest camioneta misadventure or to simply make sure that I’m still surviving this strange journey amongst cowboys and volcanoes, but I’d like to take this opportunity to give a little more background on why it was important to me to join Peace Corps to begin with.
Both my grandfather and father were in the military. And even after their time in uniform they both continued to serve the country in other ways. I spent part of my childhood in Washington D.C. as my father worked for a U.S. Representative and then watched him transition into life as an educator in Las Vegas. In fact, my father, even in his current retirement, volunteers at the local VFW and is working to improve a Veteran’s cemetery in the Philippines.
Needless to say, I’m full of patriotism (more so now than ever before – it’s amazing how living in a foreign country does that). And, for me, being from the United States is not only a great blessing but also a great responsibility. I’ve known since those days I accompanied my Dad to the Capital, and was reminded every time I saw him in his uniform as he taught high school ROTC, that I also needed to do my part. And, sadly, for about as long I have known that military service just wasn’t in the cards for me (boot camp sounds like my own personal hell). So I instead focused my studies on international relations, political science and public administration, hoping that someday these things would help me help America become a better world partner. Slowly Peace Corps started to seem more and more like a logical jumping off point for this work.
Jump forward a year of grad school, countless applications, medical appointments and vaccinations and here I am in Guatemala helping people help themselves. In the process I am spreading insight to Guatemalans regarding what my country is like and who its people are. And as I learn and integrate I am better equipped to relay to my friends and colleagues in the states who Guatemalans are. I truly believe that this exchange is the key to a more peaceful and prosperous world future. And despite all the highs and lows (which have only just begun) I am so glad I am here, to be a part of this beautiful and increasingly important process.
And I feel so lucky to have a grandfather and father who instilled this sense of duty in me and helped defend the country I love so much. So, on this Veteran’s Day, I want to thank them and all of the servicemen and women past and present who have helped to build the country I am proudly serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. Their work makes mine not only possible, but meaningful.