Pithy Thoughts

This is a list of thoughts and observations about Peace Corps, Jamaica, and Development work.

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  • Generally speaking, people are stronger, tougher, more adaptable and more resilient than they realize. Few people ever get to test the limits of what they are capable of dealing with. One of the wonderful things about Peace Corps is that you get to test yourself in a way few others do. This is an enormous privilege, even when it kinda sucks.
  • Expectations are disappointments under construction. (I read this somewhere…wish I had thought of it myself).
  • The strength of our convictions can only be measured against the risk, sacrifice, and effort required to express of externalize those convictions. Think of all the people who say “I once thought about joining Peace Corps”. Now think about how meaningless that thought is. Thinking about doing something and actually doing it are two profoundly different things. I once thought about adopting an iguana…but I didn’t. Being in Peace Corps is hard, but truly living up to your convictions is immeasurably valuable.
  • Go to the bathroom BEFORE you handle any scotchbonnet. Washing your hands will not remove all the capsaicin and fire-crotch is WAY less fun than it sounds.
  • Being comfortable is not a right. Living the Peace Corps life means dealing with discomfort on a much more frequent basis than most Americans are accustomed to. Try to remember that no one ever died of being uncomfortable.
  • With practice, it is possible to get every bit as clean from a bucket bath as from a shower. If your hair is short it is possible to achieve this effect with as little as two litres of water–even if you are as hairy as I am.
  • It is normal to miss things from home. You have the rest of your life to experience the things you miss but nothing else will ever be Peace Corps.
  • Keeping hydrated takes effort.
  • Kids, despite being adorable, are also little germbombs.
  • Peace Corps style development work can feel like blowing a dandelion puff in the wind. You might never know with dandelions resulted from your efforts, but you must have faith in your efforts meaning something.
  • It is normal to have bad days. It is normal to have bad weeks. But when you start having bad weeks consecutively, it is time to figure out what can be done to get you in a better place.
  • The world can use all the kindness it can get.
  • I expected Peace Corps would make me more independent. The reverse is true. In the US I could get around in my own vehicle, rely on the internet for local information, and generally had a pretty good handle on what was going on. In Peace Corps I am dependent on others for transportation, information etc. Embrace the fact that you must ask frequently ask for help. It took a lot of getting used to, but getting comfortable relinquishing control and relying on others is incredibly valuable.
  • People will surprise you with their kindness and generosity. Show gratitude.
  • Try to keep your sense of wonder
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