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10 things Peace Corps has taught me

10 things I've learned

Between my experiences in Sierra Leone and Comoros, I’ve spent nearly two amazing years in Africa. I’ve still got another 9 months of service, but here are some things Peace Corps has taught me so far.

If you get a chance to dance, dance.

It's those blissful moments with no language barriers and nothing but smiles. And it doesn’t matter how you dance, only that you dance.

Some things are better in the dark.

When you can’t see your plate you can imagine that piece of mystery meat as anything you please. You’ll never know the kitchen is swarming with cockroaches if you don’t shine your light there.

It never hurts to ask.

Is that octopus you’re eating? Can I have some? The answer is almost always yes.

Communication isn’t always verbal.

An unabashed pantomime just might be the key to finding a bathroom.

Honesty reaches a new level.

"Alyssa, you've grown so fat! I think you've increased your eating, yes?" 

There’s no such thing as personal space.

Children try to rub off unsightly freckles and touch your hair when they think you aren’t looking. Hordes of toothless old women bid you welcome with kisses, patting your belly while remarking on how skinny or fat they think you are.

Life without a mirror is liberating.

Until I catch a glimpse and scare myself a little bit.

Embrace mistakes with laughter.

When two of the women in the room are wearing burkas, sometimes you have to take a guess at who you’re addressing. And sometimes you guess wrong.

Appreciate the little things.

Finding an unexpected roll of toilet paper in a traditional bathroom, two hours of intermittent electricity, the motley group of neighborhood kids that show up for a random dance party....

Always say yes to new experiences.

Because you never know what you might discover.