Before I delved into the world of blogging, I sent this mass e-mail out to friends and family, basically announcing, in a loud and excited voice, “I’m going to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia!” I thought it only fitting to copy it here as my first real “post,” since it was my first public reaction to the whole Peace Corps experience. Sent on 23 November 2012:
That’s right, most of you knew I would do this one of these days. Joining the Peace Corps and living in Africa has been a huge goal for so long, I myself wondered if I’d ever really do it. But I’m excited to say that, barring disaster, I will be moving to the southeastern African nation of Zambia on February 11. I am so excited!!!! (And so terrified!!! :+)
Before I write any more, I know I’ve fallen out of touch with some of you. Such is life, I suppose, and I very much hope this e-mail finds you all well and happy. I also hope no one’s too annoyed by yet another mass e-mail from Terri … but at least it’s been a while since my international wanderings have warranted one. Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m still too old-fashioned for Facebook or a blog, so when I have big news … this is it!
So. Rather than try to explain exactly what I’ll be doing (which I’ve found difficult due to the fact that I still know so little about it myself), I’m attaching my official Peace Corps Assignment document. This is the exciting PDF file that was my official invitation to serve in Zambia. (Yes, it’s long, but of course there’s no need to read all of it. Just be grateful I didn’t send the full, 90-page file the Zambia country desk sent me.) This is the first official document I got about my service, the one I read over and over, thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is really real! I’m really going! Wow, Zambia!” Honestly, I don’t think I could come up with a better, more intriguing assignment for myself if I tried. The interface between we humans and the environment has fascinated me for a long time. I also can’t think of a better part of the world in which to live, explore, and try to give something of myself.
I know some of you may be tempted to worry about me while I’m away, but don’t. I’ve heard wonderful things about African village life, and anyway my own fears have little to do with living without electricity, pooping in a hole in the ground, getting parasites, or being harassed by local guys. (I’ve had plenty of experience with that stuff already, in other countries and right here in the United States.) Mainly I fear seeing real poverty and not knowing how to help, feeling that “rich American” guilt, and being completely inadequate for this job. I only hope that I can contribute a little something and become friends with people I otherwise never would have met. I know, at the very least, I will learn a whole lot about myself and my fellow human beings along the way.
As for communications while I’m in Peace Corps, my 27 months in Zambia will include three months of training, during which I expect to have semi-regular access to the Internet but virtually no free time, followed by two years in which I will have more free time, but very little access to a phone or the Internet. My time online will be pretty infrequent all around. Once a month or so? Whenever I get into a town with electricity and Internet access? Of course, that’s not much worse, really, than when I’m working out in the wild in summer time here. So expect me to drop off the radar a bit for two years.
That said, I do plan to send out mass e-mails from time to time, containing tales of my adventures, my emotional break-downs, and my tape worms. If you would like to be on that list, please respond to this e-mail me and tell me so. Otherwise I won’t include you, because I don’t want to clog up anyone’s Inbox for no reason. I know several of you have already said, “I want to be on the mass e-mail list!” but I might have forgotten some of you, so let me know anyway.
Also, I would LOVE to receive letters while I’m in Zambia. (You remember hand-written letters, right?) This will be my most frequent, reliable form of communication, and I do love writing and receiving REAL letters, so I’m actually quite looking forward to getting back to that. I don’t know exactly how reliable the mail will be, but I expect most letters will make it through. (Packages are always a little sketchier in developing countries, and I’ll wait to see what people in Zambia say about that.) If anyone wants to write me, I will be so happy to get something from a friend back home that I will be certain to write you back.
… That’s right, I get to spend the next two months soaking up life in Montana and spending time with my friends here. Lucky, lucky me. :+)
In the mean time, you know that crazy feeling you get when you know you’re standing at the edge of something huge, and your life is about to change forever? Well, I’ve got it. My friend Helene once sent me a magnet with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that says: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Well, this one should be good for quite a few days – maybe weeks or months! Here’s to life, to following your dreams, and to scaring yourself every once in a while. In the best, most exciting way possible.
Terri :+) :+) :+)
Already some of those things I’ve written have changed, or I’ve found out that certain information was wrong to begin with. But the overall sentiment remains the same. I imagine that’ll be a common theme here.