One of the first questions any Peace Corps applicant has to answers is “Why?” This question is the first question asked by recruiters in the Peace Corps interview and is usually the first question asked by family and friends when they learn of their loved one’s decision to serve. This is a question that all applicants have an answer to, but often it is difficult to put that answer into words. Here is my attempt to explain why I want to give up my life, ship off to a foreign country, and “save the world”.
All my life I have wanted to help other people. It’s something that has always been in my blood and almost every decision I make. I haven’t always been aware of this desire to help others; it was just sort of a subconscious concept that was underlying in all of my doings. Everything I chose to do somehow revolved around doing something for other people.
Over the course of my life I have dedicated myself to coaching, tutoring, teaching, working on a board of directors, being there for my friends and family, and numerous other feats that all seem to revolve around being there to support other individuals. I don’t consciously ask myself “does this help others?” or “should I really do this, it doesn’t really do anything to help?” It has always just been a guiding force.
It wasn’t until recently that I really began to understand that driving force behind my actions. A discontent with my job, living situation, general progression in life baffled me until I realized that I just didn’t feel fulfilled. The things I was doing were great to the average eye, but for some reason they just didn’t make me feel content. I wanted to do more.
As I started to realize that, I had to start self-reflecting on what it is I wanted to do with my life. Did I want to start a new job? Did I want to relocate? No answers to these questions came … until one day I had what I would call an epiphony. I was driving to spend the day with my best friend’s family. It’s a beautiful drive, one where you can’t help but watch the scenery and just reflect on life in general … and as I did that, driving up the highway, watching the world around me, a thought popped into my head, completely out of the blue.
“I’m joining the Peace Corps.”
It wasn’t really even an idea … it was a statement of fact. I was going to do it. I had thought about it in the past, but never really seriously. It was a fleeting idea that I didn’t really think I would ever be able to do. But that day, at that moment, it became a reality. I was going to do it, not matter what. The remainder of the drive I tried to figure out why I would have had that thought at that moment, on that day, and I honestly couldn’t tell you.
All I know is that I’ve finally figured out my path. I am not fulfilled in my desire to help people. I may do it on a regular basis at my work, with my friends, and in my community, but that isn’t enough. I want to go bigger. I want to help people who truly need it, in a country that truly needs it. I want to immerse myself in their culture, learn their language, become a part of their lifestyle, and in the process, help them.
That is my path. That is what I’m meant to do. That is why I am going to become a Peace Corps Volunteer … that is my “why”.