It doesn’t feel like I’m in the Peace Corps. I’m seven months in and have covered over a quarter of my time here in Mongolia. So why hasn’t the sensation of participating in the “Peace Corps Experience” arrived? Is it because I have electricity and access to a metropolitan city? Maybe it’s the fact that my khasaa family has a nicer, and more expensive car than the last one I owned? Is it because every person in my soum whom I’ve observed appears to be nourished, and as healthy as any American? Or is it that most households have access to the internet, along with a computer or laptop?
Then again, it could very well be how ridiculously built up this two year experience is. Before leaving America, I found that telling an acquaintance about my imminent adventure would, without fail, bring a look of either pure amazement or unadulterated terror into their eyes. “That’s incredible.” or, “why in the world would you want to live in a poor, dirty country for two years?!”
Once this chapter has been completed, and I close my service in Mongolia, will I forever remember it as a “oh yeah, I guess that happened… it was pretty awesome” Or will emotions emerge, three years down the road, when a casual memory of chopping wood pops up? Will the accurate associated feelings appear at last?
Finally, what does “doing the peace corps” feel like? What emotional response befits this epic journey? Should it feel empowering, scary, or just plain different? For most Peace Corps volunteers, including me, these emotions show their faces daily. But for some reason, they just don’t seem to add up to the two mighty words “Peace Corps”.