Separation anxiety. Miscommunication. Lack of data. Lost letters and delayed mail.
For many of us, and probably for most PCVs, these kinds of feelings aren’t anything new. I wanted to write about this, specifically, to kind of give my personal dialogue about dealing with separation from America.
To the Future Volunteer,
Nothing will ever prepare you for everything that you will encounter on your Peace Corps journey. Despite any number of preparations that you might have considered, had the best tools and had the perfect packing list, nothing can stop the challenges that you will face.
Things like language barrier, the constant badgering of unwanted attention from kids, men and women, unexpected illnesses and losing precious items, it’s part of the package.
The events that you will encounter will not be the main root of your personal struggles, mainly speaking from personal experience, your ability to control your reactions is what will keep you going.
Good day. Bad day. Doesn’t matter. Your voice is powerful, the little remarks that notate things as “good” or “bad” accumulate over time.
I can’t do this language thing. There is too much going on and I can’t focus anymore. All of these people are crazy, how do you expect me to learn all of these things?!
Change the framework from words that synthesize limitations and instead create moments of opportunity. Negative to positive.
I haven’t had the chance to learn language like this, let’s see how far we can get. There is a lot going on, but if I can focus for 5 minutes I can get something done. This is a lot of information, no doubt, let’s just take it one step at a time. I can always ask for help in the future.
To the Parents of the Volunteer,
As the son of my mom and dad in Hawai’i, a 13-hour time difference doesn’t make it easy to communicate with my family back home.
Secure a way of communicating before departure. FaceTime, WhatsApp, FaceBook Messenger… there are a plethora of options that you can choose. Choose what your parents know, and if all else fails, letters are always an option.
Read up on your future country of service’s communication channels:
- Do they have access to ALL social media apps?
- Is there a tax or limiter on communication?
- Got a power bank in case of electricity issues in country?
Keep a line of communication; keep your sanity intact.
To the Friends of the Volunteer,
Communicate as much as you can, you never know when the power will go out haha.
Likewise with the parents, have a way that you will keep in contact. Some places might be charging like mad for international texts and phone calls, so consider what their data plan is like.
Send a letter ASAP to the general Peace Corps office of their country! Usually you can find it with a quick Google search.
Let’s make one thing clear, this is not an easy job, and generally not a place with the best phone signal. Otherwise, everyone would be joining in lol. Be patient with your friendo.
Your FaceTime call might be interrupted multiple times, dropped on more than one occasion and you’ll have to try several times to even hear their voice for longer than two minutes. Your friend might be doing 20 things at once and may randomly blow up because they are just feeling overwhelmed.
Take a breath, give an ear, and listen to what they have to say.
Working with Peace Corps…
takes a lot of effort, it’s a team effort.
It takes the efforts put forth from the Volunteer and the network that supports them. For many volunteers, this may be the first time that they are leaving the country, and for those people, culture shock is a thing.
You’ll get to understand how strong you are, how fragile you might be, how much can you really handle before something starts to change. Participating will only get you so far, become an active person and take charge of your life in Peace Corps.
We’re advocates for change, agents to catalyze something great, whether it’s in your community or your own self. Things won’t be the same again, and it’s going to be one wild ride seeing it all come to fruition.