I took the GRE last week, which means I have a bulk of the necessary components to complete graduate school applications. The test went well enough, though I was very stressed leading up to it. Studying for only the month preceding the test wasn’t the best idea; I’ve learned you can still procrastinate while living in the bush.
October has been much wetter this year than last. Lately I’ve seen pretty frequent, albeit fleeting rain. There’s nothing I dislike about rain – no, make that water in general. I often find myself standing outside, like I did today, to soak up storms. They’re irresistible.
Yesterday began the district’s annual evidence-based planning meetings. Last year I was the lone volunteer in my district and endured the frustrations of this process on my own. Although there are other volunteers around this year, the data used to construct the local response to HIV/AIDS is still out-of-date or simply bad. Protestations don’t seem to permeate, and the committee pushes forward on the unstable foundation of imprecise information. Inquiries about improving the quality of statistics are met with dead-end finger pointing. This takes me to the root of why I decided to only engage people when asked. Laboring over something so wasteful saps both my energy and willpower.
Frankly, I can no longer consume myself with things I find so pointless. The amount of time I have left places me in a do or die situation. I want to finish certain things and that can only happen by sacrificing the bullshit. It’s very easy to empathize with people who find service unfulfilling (I’ve oscillated across the line). Part of me envisions some sort of grand, ceremonial end to my service, but the reality is that I’ll probably just take a quiet bow.
My favorite piece of advice to give about Peace Corps is this: be selfish. Most volunteers want to make an impact and leave a legacy of positive change, but disregard the fact that this work is about personal development as well. A lot of time is spent training on the proper way to approach development, but it doesn’t always work and we never talk about the backup plan. There comes a point when you have to do what you want to do in order to be happy. Sometimes it isn’t as drastic as constructing a building or planting an orchard. It can be learning how to play the guitar or writing a novel or getting into crazy good physical shape. It can also be about saying “I don’t want to do that.”