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The Motivations of a Movement: Deciding to Join Peace Corps

August 20, 2012
 Today we are sharing a guest post from our friend Monika. Monika and I met through our service learning trip to Kenya and her experience prompted her to apply for Peace Corps. In January, she will be leaving for either Jordan or Morroco to teach English and do youth development. You can follow her blog at Confessions of a Conscious Consumer where she will be blogging about her Peace Corps experience. Her post below highlights what finally pushed her to apply and the feelings she is experiencing now.

Confessions of a conscious consumer

 
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“Just talk about what your motivations are! It won’t be too hard.” This is the response a friend of mine gave me when I asked what I was supposed to be writing. She had approached me with a simple request. Would I be willing to write a guest piece for her blog about global citizenship that addresses my motivations and thoughts on joining the Peace Corps? Of course I agreed instantly. But it got me to thinking: What are my motivations? Why didI sign up to move overseas for 27 months to a remote location all by myself?

 
The moment anyone asks if I’m excited to go I instantly respond with a rapid “Yes! I couldn’t be more pumped.” But I guess the question that floats around the back of my mind is simply this: Is this my answer? Or is this the answer people want to hear? Why did I sit down back in December and hit submit on that application? It was seven years ago that 14 year old me came up with the idea to join Peace Corps, and the idea has spread like an infection within me ever since. But when push comes to shove, having that idea is much different than turning it into a reality. 
 
So why did I do it? Anyone who has watched me through the application process can attest that I haven’t been ideally efficient in completing the process. It took over two months to simply finish and submit the application. Then when I found out I needed volunteer hours to qualify, I would be lying if I didn’t admit the idea of an easy way out never crossed my mind. And to top the whole process off, my medical packet sat on the floor of my room for over three months, only to be submitted with 2 days to spare before disqualification. But here I am today, all forms submitted and signed, sick of Bellingham, waiting on my assignment, and ready to leave. But again I ask: How did I get here?Almost a year ago to the day, I first started this blog. It was born out of an intense frustration and a lack of outlets for release, talking about my experiences in Kochia, Kenya, and how those experiences were changing my life on a day to day basis. It was raw, uncensored, and pissed people off. There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes something like this: “You have to get off the mountain to see it.” And that may have been the theme for that first post. It was easy for me to judge the people around me for living an American lifestyle when I was freshly back from an experience that showed the impacts our society truly has on the world. But as this year as moved forward, I’ve struggled with a raging internal battle between the American life I was raised in, and the knowledge I have that I don’t want to be that way. If there’s one thing this year has taught me though, its that old habits die hard.

I’ve had to learn to compromise with myself, and slowly change my habits. I’ve managed to not buy a single piece of new clothing for over a year now, I’ve been vegetarian for eleven months now, I sold my car to live more sustainable, and I stubbornly use a broken cell phone instead of buying a new one. I also bought a new laptop, work a retail job that promotes over-consumption, and don’t always buy organic or local foods because I don’t want to spend the money. Its the give and take of living an ethical American lifestyle. And its not easy. I ask myself what impact eating just one cheeseburger would have; I debate internally about if I can get away with buying that T-shirt I really like (it is just one new piece of clothing, right?); I some days wish I never sold my car (it would just be so convenient…). But what it comes down to is bigger than me.

And that’s why I will leave in January for the Peace Corps. Because this is about something bigger than me. I’m not vegetarian because it’s easy. I’m not living a sustainable life (as much as possible) because American society tells me to do so. And I’m not moving abroad all by myself for over 2 years because it seems like an exotic getaway. I do all of this because it’s hard, and it’s important. I do it because if I don’t, who will? If I convinced myself that my actions don’t matter, and so do 1,000 other people, nothing will ever improve. I’m moving abroad to push myself to find new limits and challenge my intellect and human nature. I am excited, but I’m also scared to hell and back. But in the end, I will come out stronger, more determined, and ready to fight like hell to make this world something worth leaving for my children. Those are my motivations. 

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Do you have a story to share with The Passport Epilogues? If so, we would love to hear from you and have you be a guest writer on our blog! Email us as passport.epilogues@gmail.com and pitch your idea! We are happy to help you formulate your post as well!

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