Well, with the arrival of May 7th, 2016, it has officially been 12 months since I first touched foot on Peruvian soil, and also 12 months since I last touched foot on U.S. soil. It has been a year full of highs and lows, a year full of changes, a year full of doubt, a year full of new foods, and a year which has showed me that I made the right choice in applying for and joining the Peace Corps.
I know that I am not the same person I was when I left the US 12 months ago. Yes, I still am a nerd, yes I still love nature, and soccer, but what I mean is that Peace Corps changes the way that you view the world. In this past year, I have been immersed in a new country, culture and way of living that has challenged many of my beliefs and made me reevaluate how I view this world. I’ve come to realize that many of the beliefs and habits I hold are not universal, and that in just accepting and living within our comfort zones, we miss out on the incredible diversity of thought that exists in this world. There is no right way to do something; we only just think there is based on the beliefs we were raised with and hold onto.
My first year in the Peace Corps in Perú has been quite unforgettable, and I am looking forward to seeing what these last 15 months have in store for me. When I took the leap to join the Peace Corps, I was frightened of what my future held, but I’ve pushed through my worries to come out empowered and more confident in myself and my capabilities. Here in Perú, I’ve made great friends, projects are coming together, and I’m really excited for all of the highs and lows yet to come, for even more arroz y papas, and for many more memories made with my friends and family here in Perú and abroad. To commemorate this special occasion, I decided to create a short list of ways my life has changed since coming to Perú, as well as share a photo gallery with one photo/month of time here in Perú.
- It’s been over 1 year since I’ve had a Frosty from Wendy’s or sesame chicken from a Chinese Restaurant, but it has only been hours since I’ve eaten a US-week’s worth of rice and potatoes.
- It’s been 1 year since I’ve pet and hugged my dog Cody, but only a few hours since I’ve played with my new puppy, Hazel.
- It’s been 1 year since I’ve held one of my pet lizards, but only a day since I saw 3-4 lizards running around outside my house in the morning sun.
- It’s been 1 year since I last used shampoo, but only minutes since I reaffirmed to myself its uselessness.
- It has been 1 year since I’ve driven a car, but only a few hours since I used Perú’s unique and controlled chaos that is the public transit system.
- It’s been 1 year since I sat in a hammock under a tree in my backyard, but only 3 days since I planted some trees with my host-family.
- It’s been 1 year since I departed for this Peace Corps adventure, but only minutes since I’ve been thankful for what I have gained so far.
So with 12 months, down, I’ve still got 15 left to reach the title of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, or RPCV in the omnipresent Peace Corps abbreviations. Who knows what the next few months have in store, and while that would have worried pre-Peace Corps Mark quite a bit, current Mark is excited with the uncertainty.
Let’s do this!