Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Succeed in Peace Corps

Being a PCV is hard.

It's hard for several reasons - most of which I have previously discussed (Peace Corps Experience [link]), so this post ain't about that. It's about how to really create sustainable, lasting change in a community.

Sure, I can teach a group of local girls to write a resume, but that doesn't mean they can update it (or even find it again) once I leave.

I definitely can sit around a table late at night explaining the nuances of America to a local counterpart's family, but that means squat when some guy decided to burn a Koran.

And of course, I totally plan on going home and talking about my experience and PC till I am blue in the face, but nobody (except another RPCV) is gonna get what I am trying to spit out.

That lasting sustainable change is an elusive beast. As I come closer to my COS (Close of Service) date, I cannot get it out of my head. What will I leave behind in this community and what will I take with me?

I have no idea. I mean, I totally plan to continue this blog for 9 months (until my 29th birthday) after I COS, so conceivably, I will be able to tell you later, but for now, I am just gonna have to guess.

So, my guess is this: friendship is important. 

The more I learn about Azerbaijan, the more I realize that how we (Americans) view friendship and interact with friends is culturally very different. If I can transmit any one thing, it is that taking the time to hang out, enjoy the company of, and stopping to smell the flowers with a friend is the most gratifying and pleasurable thing in the world. Friends are important. Having a good friend is worth their weight in gold and being a good friend is priceless.

Inshallah, this is what I leave behind as my legacy.