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Lessons Learned as a Peace Corps Volunteer

These are lessons learned about volunteering as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa:

Be flexible. Life may be lived at a different pace, accomplishments measured on a different scale. Remember, you travel to experience the new.

Learn. Learn about the lives of your host. Learn to be a minority. Learn to appreciate the good when it comes and not to worry about the bad until it happens. Deliberately or not, you will probably also learn the big lessons like patience and perseverance. Once you do, it is your honor to share your knowledge with others.

Accept. Once you reach the end of your endurance, you will realize that you are both more and less than you thought you were. Admit and accept your weaknesses, rejoice in your strengths, and grow.

Change. An experience abroad will completely change your vision of the world and yourself. You will change even without meaning to. Try to make the change deliberate.

Remember. As time goes by, it is easy to forget. Take the time to contemplate your new world and record it. A journal will help you to better understand your surroundings and yourself. Although it is sometimes uncomfortable to intrude with a camera, ask politely and record as much as you can.

Enjoy. Finally, and most importantly: enjoy your journey, especially the unexpected. Pay attention to everything—you never know how important it may be. Respect the culture you are sharing. No matter your destination or how long you plan to stay, it will become a part of who you are.

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