I've spent the last year living in a foreign country. The whole idea of it still seems bizarre on some level.
I've been attempting to adapt and understand the Philippines as best I can. I have met so many wonderful people, visited beautiful places and I have made unforgettable memories. I am reminded every day of how lucky I am to be an American, to have an education, and a family that loved me enough to support me this far. I have no doubt grown from this experience, I feel more competent everyday and I have not forgotten the privilege that serving as a Peace Corps volunteer has afforded me.
At the same time, being in the Philippines for one year hasn't been easy and to be honest I am still grappling with the idea of living here for another 14 months. There have been highs in which I have felt like the luckiest person on earth, and lows in which I have felt like the loneliest. I've been challenged by the reality of the environmental pollution, extreme poverty, systemic oppression, sexism, and misguided western influence.
Yet despite being here for one year, there are still many aspects of myself that I'd like to improve. Namely I could be more patient, understanding, and dedicated to my service, but without any baseline sometimes it's hard to know what impact you're actually having as a volunteer. The more measurable outcome I think, is how the experience impacts you in the way that you view the world, and make conscious decisions to care for other people.
In closing, I think I'll have to quote one of my earlier posts from May 1st 2012,
just after I accepted my invitation to serve in the Philippines.
"Not knowing where you will end up is what makes life so interesting
and the growth you experience is always more valuable than the end point."
I couldn't have said it better myself.