Saying “I don’t know” with a smile

“I don’t know.” I find myself saying this phrase an awful lot when responding to the many questions that friends and family ask regarding my upcoming Peace Corps experience. And while uncertainty usually brings feelings of discomfort and concern, I find myself saying “I don’t know” with a smile on my face – as if in anticipation of opening a wonderful present or gift.

Wanting to spend as much time with their soon-to-be-distant son, my parents flew in to Indianapolis this past Easter weekend to visit. We entertained ourselves with a few plays, a Pacer’s game, and several museums. But in-between these distractions came countless questions about my upcoming Peace Corps experience. Questions for which I have no answer. Here are a few examples:

Q: Where will you live?
A: I don’t know. I do know that the Peace Corps will determine my placement within Guyana near the end of my three-month training period. That way they can match a volunteer’s skills with the needs of a local community. Other than that, I don’t know where I’ll be living. I could have an apartment all to my self. Or I could live in someone’s home with a family of eight. I don’t even know if my home will have running water or electricity.

Q: What will you be doing?
A: I don’t know. I know that I’ll be serving as an Information Technology consultant. I might be spending much of my time in air-conditioned rooms setting up servers and local area networks. Or I might be teaching students or professors how to build websites or simply use a mouse. The Peace Corps has some very broad objectives for me, but other than that, I suspect that I’ll be working on projects that I create.

Q: How will you keep in touch? Will you have Internet access?
A: I don’t know. I hope that I’ll have at least weekly Internet access, for it’s going to be hard to this high-bandwidth Internet junkie to go offline. But we’ll have to see. If I am stationed in an urban environment in or around Georgetown, I might have frequent access. Otherwise, I’ll likely have to make trips to the city to get my fix.

These and many more questions all have similar unknowns. And while many people might have hesitation or fear in making a change with so many unknowns, I find myself answering these questions with excitement and anticipation.

There will be much about my Peace Corps experience that will be hard and difficult work, for this I’m certain. But it will be the answers to these many unknown questions that will make my experience exciting and rewarding.