You know how I know I’m American? I’m already trying to plan my post-Peace Corps life.
It seems a little presumptuous considering I haven’t even officially started service. In a little more than 36 hours, I’ll be swearing in as an official Volunteer marking the end of my posh Peace Corps Trainee life in the suburbs of Quito and the beginning of 2 years in rural Saquisilí hoping to somehow improve the English of the teachers I’ll be working with in the local high school. Its another milestone on Wednesday, which right now feels like a bigger one than leaving the U.S. for the abyss that is Peace Corps back in mid-January. (I’ll be posting a training re-cap in the next few days, don’t you worry.) But yes, me being my little planning American self, I’m already wondering what big milestones I’ll be planning for after I finish Peace Corps Service on April 4, 2014. It seems so far yet oh so close.
The majority of the Trainees in my training class (Omnibus 107…woot!) are fresh-outta-college jovenes just like myself. I think a general feeling is that we didn’t know what we wanted to be when we grew up or we just weren’t ready to grow up quite yet. The Peace Corps seemed like a logical option to wait it out…2 whole years to figure it out. For me, I constantly go back and forth between two seemingly opposite aspirations.
Option 1: Foreign Service = crazy international career working for the Government or an NGO or some other obscure undefinable job that lets me live out my continent-hopping dreams
working with/meeting interesting people
Option 2: Domestic Bliss = cozy midwestern/urban life in Chicago close to my college friends, teaching English or working with groups of foreigners or refugees
close to family/friends
familiarity (food, language, culture)
present for family/friend milestones
Basically I’m thinking two career routes, teaching English as a foreign language or working in international development. I was talking to someone about this the other day and his response was “The Peace Corps seems perfect for you.” And so far, I think it is. I’m living abroad, I’ll be teaching English, I’ll be doing grassroots development-ish. It all seems golden. But what about after my 2 years is up, how do I find a job doing something I love? Do I even want a whole grown up career?
Today was our second to last day of training and seeing as they basically have nothing left to tell us, we had 2 Foreign Service Officers come from the U.S. Embassy in Quito. They talked about the relations between Ecuador and the U.S., the current political situation here, we got the basics on all things Visas and how they work for Ecuadorians, etc. Then we got to the good stuff, the actual Foreign Service and what’s its like to live that lifestyle. The first lady who spoke is married to another FSO, has 3 children, and has been in the Foreign Service for 13 years. She talked about the infamous exam, what its like to move around with a family, and the fact that many FSOs are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Every time I read a little bio or talk to someone who has an international career, I start wondering if I could actually do something like that and what it would be like. Then I bring myself back to reality and start thinking about all the things I would be missing in the U.S. Do I want a life of foreign service or domestic bliss? Maybe I’ll aim for both? I’ll probably laugh at my idealism at some point in the future.
Two years to figure it out. GO!