As Peace Corps Volunteers we spend a lot of time complaining. When we get together often we discuss or bemoan the question of what does our service mean? Why are we even here? Do these people (Moldovans in my case) even want us here? What does a successful service mean?
I spent a lot of time during my first year here pondering these questions and I certainly can’t answer them for anyone else, but for me, my service was more successful than I could have ever imagined. What I can say, is that when you come here, or go to any country, you have a chance especially if you are lucky enough to work with youth to change their outlooks, become a mentor and maybe to impact positively someone else’s life. During our recent Close of Service Conference, we were asked to share a moment of impact, and I was having a difficult time choosing just one, so instead I shared this quote, from the Talmud.
“WHOSOEVER PRESERVES A SINGLE SOUL…, SCRIPTURE ASCRIBES [MERIT] TO HIM AS THOUGH HE HAD PRESERVED A COMPLETE WORLD.”
Now looking back on my service and preparing to return home, I have become as introspective as I was during those first several months, and I’m thinking less of how I’ve changed Moldova and more how this experience has changed me. During our COS conference our Country Director recently shared with us the following quote, which says it better perhaps than I ever might:
Something to reflect on—–Like many people who have been affected by such an experience in a distant land, I did not come all the way home; nor did I leave that experience behind.
It stayed in my mind, it informed my decisions, it made me strong.
To all of this, there are people who will say, “What’s the point?” But those are the same people who’ll say what’s the point of writing a poem, or learning a language, or going for a hike, or lingering on a wooded path to watch a bird flash onto a branch.
Whenever someone asks me what I think he should do with his life, I always say, First, leave home. Get out there, where if you care to listen, you will find many other people dreaming of making connections and changing the world, just like you.
The only mistake is in thinking that you will make an important difference in the lives of the people you’re among. The profound difference will be in you.
I find myself getting emotional about leaving the people here, not knowing when I will see them again. While there have been a lot of people here who affected my service and changed my life and perspectives for the better, the youth in the video below are some of the ones who have impacted me the most, they are some of the people who have been amazing friends, resources, life rafts, and so much more. To learn more about them, see the videos below: