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Peace Corps: The First Year

Huffington Post

When I joined the Peace Corps one year ago, I wouldn't have imagined my life to be anything like it is today. In my mind, Peace Corps Ethiopia would be a risky but rewarding adventure, with a lack of electricity and running water, and an abundance of rats. Although some of that may be a bigger part of my life than I care to admit, it is what I did not expect that truly defines my service thus far.

I did not expect freezing cold summers with rain so loud it hurts. I can't say I anticipated my most prized possession to become a bucket and favorite pastime to be drinking tiny cups of freshly brewed coffee. I never thought I would be a local celebrity or that I would have good enough aim to poop in a hole. Never in my wildest dreams would I have had enough guts to fight a creepy old man, using a dictionary as my weapon. I did not expect my best friends to be teenage boys and women over the age of sixty. But most profoundly, I never really thought I would ever become comfortable in a culture so vastly different than my own, for it's one year in and I feel as if I never needed a refrigerator, hot-shower, or string-cheese.

I remember once assuming that a "bucket-bath" required me to literally sit inside a tiny plastic bucket. Today, it's a no-brainer. One year ago, I cringed at the taste of Ethiopia's staple food, injera, but now I find myself craving it. I go through my daily routine without questioning the difficult process in which I am forced to do things. It no longer bothers me, but neither does the boy who comes to my English Club with no shoes or the twelve year-old girl who raises three siblings and walks two hours to attend school. Why do things that once gave me the chills no longer even faze me? Is this the price you pay for feeling comfortable?

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