Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reflections on Six Months in Bulgaria

Six months ago my Bulgarian adventure began in earnest. It started with an awkward and uncomfortable introduction to a Bulgarian woman and her son, people who, along with their respective spouses, would act as my host family for two months of pre-service training. The awkward introduction was followed by an even more awkward first evening spent drinking rakia and understanding virtually nothing of what we attempted to communicate with each other. An eighty-two step walk from my bedroom to an outhouse blessed with a squat toilet in the shape of an iron made the evening complete.

This past weekend I returned, for the first time, to the Bulgarian family who adopted me as their own six months ago. I was unsure of both how I would feel seeing them again and how they would feel seeing me again. What I learned is that this crazy idea called the Peace Corps is actually working. I felt as if I was visiting relatives, and they treated me not as a guest but as a son and brother. There was none of the awkwardness between us that there had been six months earlier. It was obvious that the relationships and bonds we had developed were real, and the tears shed four months ago when we went our separate ways were genuine.

So, if you’re wondering what it’s like to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’ll offer you this. Like any job, being a Peace Corps Volunteer has its pros and cons and ups and downs. But there are few other jobs which allow you to serve your country, see and experience a new culture, and help people in need. As mentioned at the very beginning of this blog, the primary goal of the Peace Corps is to promote world peace and friendship. Who doesn’t like making new friends and working toward making the world more peaceful? It’s a pretty special and rewarding gig.

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