As Peace Corps Volunteers we sometimes find ourselves saying, “I could do my job if it weren’t for these damn people.” It’d be so much funnier if we could catch ourselves in the irony. But we get caught up, rather, in the frustrations of trying to get things done in the ways we want to do them, on our time, under our conditions, for our own goals.
I believe every volunteer is here because they want to help people. I can think of about 187 other places I could go to take a two-year vacation, and despite their obvious draws and benefits, I’m also not here for the sheep fat dinners, pit toilets or bi-monthly bathing sessions. But I do enjoy shooting the breeze around a meal, digging a hole with a neighbor and the occasional back scrub at the local sauna from a newfound friend.
The give and take is found here too – it starts here in fact, in the day-to-day stuff that makes up so much of our experiences. In order to help people we first get to know who they are, what they want and how they want to go about getting it. It’s their goals we’re after, and if it’s through our methods, then we have adapted them to make sense to the people whom they benefit. The Peace Corps wouldn’t be here if there weren’t things that needed to be changed, but we have to remember that in the end it’s not about procedures but about relationships. Yes, it’s going to be frustrating at times. But that’s because we’re working with people. And that’s why we’re here.