Today I am going to accept an invitation to become a Peace Corps volunteer in Guyana, South America. After spending nearly two years in the application process, I finally received my invitation about a week ago. I have created this Monologue section of my site to help me document what is bound to be the most challenging and exciting adventure I will undertake.
Accepting this invitation is no easy decision, for I will be agreeing to spend the next two years (without pay) helping the less fortunate in a poverty stricken country. I will be leaving behind the comforts of hot showers, air-conditioned rooms, high-speed Internet access, my cell phone, my car, 173 television stations, and my Xbox.
Yet the Peace Corps opportunity is still appealing to me.
While I am fortunate to have visited more than 40 countries, my brief visits and vacations fail to give me true insight of a distant culture. I want to LIVE abroad, not just to visit.
A few years ago, the Peace Corps added two new focuses to the list of services that its volunteers offer developing nations. The focus that interested me was that of Information Technology.
I find the idea of helping a developing nation build its IT services while teaching its citizens how to use and harness the power of computers quite enticing. I suppose it is similar to the dot-com attraction I had several years ago, only much bigger and much more influential.
Of the 30 Peace Corps volunteers currently stationed in Guyana, I will be one of only three who are currently working within the IT focus. There will be much for me to learn, particularly when it comes to hardware, computer repair, setting up local area networks, and establishing Internet connections. In fact, my HTML and graphic design skills may hardly come into play.
Fewer than a third of all applicants are extended an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps. While this will be a big move and commitment, I’ve decided that it is worth the risk and accept this honor.
I know that my friends and family will always be there and in support no matter where I am or what I am doing. So leaving them “behind” for two years will not be much of an issue.
What has worried me the most is that I will be leaving my employer after spending only one year attempting to open a profitable office in Indianapolis. My employer has invested more resources in me and the Indianapolis office than I have been able to generate new sales or revenue.
Leaving my employer to join the Peace Corps will make my efforts here a failure. Acceptance of my failure and disappointment of my early departure is what has troubled me the most. I’m not concerned about Malaria carrying mosquitoes, nine months of rain, or getting sick from drinking the water. I’ve been holding off accepting this invitation because of how my decision will affect my employer.
I’m ready to join the Peace Corps. I’m ready for the challenge. And if I was currently unemployed, this would be a good time for me to go. I don’t own a house, I’m not married, I have no pets, I have no car payment or student loans to pay, and I’m about to turn 30.
So I have decided to accept the disappointment that I will likely bring my employer once I tell them the news. I’m going to join the Peace Corps.