Today, I ran into some people serving with the Peace Corps on the street. How did I know they were Peace Corps? Well, they’re all white, but also because a few of them are taking Spanish classes at the Venezuelan embassy with two of my roommates. Anyway, after a brief conversation with one of them, a little more direct light has been shed on what it’s like to be in Guyana as a Peace Corps volunteer. A large percentage of Peace Corps volunteers do not serve out their full two-year term in Guyana. Guyana has over a 40% drop out rate for Peace Corps volunteers. This is attributed to the lack of direction given to the volunteers upon their arrival in the country and throughout their stay. I don’t think this is necessarily a Peace Corps problem. I think it’s an issue with Guyana. I remember my first few days of school in September, and I was concerned about the lack of direction for my job; however, things came together quickly for me. Granted, I had to jump into the drivers seat and take complete initiative, but now I’ve got a solid routine that I share with my boys each day.
Speaking with this girl opened my eyes more to the experience I am currently having in Guyana. She said that she is unsure as to whether she’ll complete her commitment to the Peace Corps. She says she isn’t expected to do anything at work, no one cares if she shows up or not. Not to mention, she’s only scheduled to work four hours, four days a week. She also pointed out that, unlike other countries the Peace Corps serves in, she isn’t currently learning a new language, so she doesn’t even have that going for her. So what is she doing here? She says she doesn’t have anything in particular to get home to, and so, here she is…
For me, I recognize how incredibly meaningful my time in Guyana is to my development as a spiritual/human being. I learn every single day. I learn in droves each day. I learn about myself, people in general, culture, this planet…it’s so freakin’ cool. Granted, yes, many days are filled with anxiety, worry, or complaints due to the quantity of information I take in and the amount of time it takes to process these things, but I learn. I discover. I find out. I’m not in Guyana learning a new language or solving the issue of world hunger. But I am in Guyana loving. I’m in Guyana learning to teach, learning to process trauma and scandal. Bombshells—man, there have been more of these than I ever could have imagined…but, I’m getting through it. I’m down here learning to navigate a world where circumstances are completely different than what I grew up accustomed to.
So, I’m glad for this experience. When I return to the developed world, all I’ll have to speak of in terms of my new language skill set is that, if I travel to a pocket of Queens, NY that houses a lot of Guyanese people, I’ll be able to decipher what they’re saying. But in terms of what I’m taking away from this experience, I’m taking away everything. I’m growing tenfold. I’m going to come back a new, bad@ss version of myself. Seriously, I think I can handle anything after this. Anything. I mean it. I may start vacationing in Somalia just because nothing else sounds challenging enough.