Heading off to Kosovo, my next adventure

By Vera Greene
June 6, 2014

Peace Corps' first class of trainees in Kosovo begins their journey today, as they gather in Washington, D.C., for their staging event before getting on a plane. Trainee Vera Greene will regularly contribute posts about her experiences and observations as a member of this historic class. Below is her first post. Be sure to wish her well as she prepares to leave for Kosovo!

I could name a million different reasons for joining the Peace Corps, but the general creed I believe in is, “if I won’t, how can I expect anyone else to?” 

I can sit back and feel upset or helpless about issues I think will never change – or I can do something.

So why Peace Corps?

A world comprising peace, understanding, openness and awareness is a world I want my friends, family and myself to live in. It’s a world I want my future children and their future children to grow up in. Our differences shouldn’t hold us back, they should forge new fronts and create new paths.

I have traveled overseas every year since I was born and, while at Penn State, I was able to study and work abroad in two vastly different countries, Italy and China. From this international experience, I really started to see that the Peace Corps path was where life was leading me. Working in Beijing at the newspaper The China Daily gave me that last push. Living there, I was able to fall in love with a country I found to be heavily misunderstood by the West, while, at the same time, learning that the West was often heavily misunderstood by the Far East. During my time at The China Daily, it finally clicked that a foreign service route was where I really saw myself – something that I see Peace Corps Volunteers aiding by giving me international experience at a grassroots level. I wanted to be part of the promotion of understanding and peace.

The only way to broaden horizons is to learn, experience and understand. My parents, who met in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, paved the way for who I am today. My mom and dad raised me on the principle that I must always consider myself a citizen of the world.

When I found out I was officially going to Kosovo as one of first Peace Corps Volunteers, I was unbelievably happy and humbled.

Only two years earlier I had been in Croatia, and I can clearly remember saying to my parents, “I want to come back here. This area of the world is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been.” At that time, my dad had told me about the wars that occurred all over the Balkans, and I thought about how little I knew and how much I wanted to know more. As a formerly war-torn country, Kosovo has been through so much – but continues to subsist and grow. It’s an incredible feeling to know I will be able to observe – and help in my own small way – the growth of this six-year-old nation.

Vera Greene

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