In Moldova, the rain comes seemingly out of nowhere, and it comes down so fast it temporarily floods parts of the sandy, unpaved sections of the road. By the time you feel a drop on your arm and think “oh maybe I have some time to get into the house,” you’re already drenched. I’m used to sudden rainfall; I did live in Portland, after all. However, my reaction to being caught in the rain—glasses covered in water and makeup running down my face—has already changed.
I’m a West Coast girl in a humid world. I frequently have to stand uncomfortably close (read: pressed against, body parts in or around other various body parts) to strangers or fellow volunteers in minibuses. I’m constantly sweaty in the professional attire Peace Corps requires on our training days. I make frequent language mistakes both in and outside of class. My shoes get muddy. Public transportation is rarely on time. I have to get up early every day. Peace Corps gives us between one day and a day and a half out of the week for free time. We have free communication between volunteers and staff members (who do indeed call), but only through calling minutes, rather than unlimited texting.
If you know me well, you will know that the last paragraph sounds like my nightmare. I consistently feel less than clean and pristine, schedules are interrupted (or worse, completely ignored), I make public mistakes, talking on the phone is a requirement sometimes, personal space is a luxury, and I have little time to recharge before needing to interact with people again out of necessity. And somehow, I have yet to question whether this is the right choice for me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure that breakdown will happen multiple times during my service. I’m not completely delusional! I don’t quite know what it is about being here right now that feels just right. Maybe it’s because each sunset is more beautiful than the last. Maybe it’s because my host is an amazing cook and an extremely hospitable person. Maybe it’s because there are dogs and cats everywhere. Maybe it’s because my fellow volunteers are extremely caring, supportive, and generous people. Maybe it’s because my language teachers are both patient and effective. Maybe I’m just finally aware of how truly lucky I am, both here and in the States. Not necessarily in the “I live in a rich country” sense of the word, but I’m lucky because I can observe, feel, and experience such values in action, no matter where in the world I go.
While I will have a later post about how volunteers abroad take more away from the service experience than they are able to give, I’m pushing that inner conflict away temporarily. Instead, I just want to wonder at the beauty of this planet, and enjoy the pure generosity and selflessness of its inhabitants. At a time when my whole life seemed to be crashing down and the whole world seemed in turmoil, these past few weeks have been a reminder that the world is so much bigger than any problem I think I have. The people and places in it are simply extraordinary. For now, that’s my focus.