Just when you think everyone back home has forgotten about
you, you get a very unexpected package in the post. Well actually, it started with a very strange
email a few weeks prior, from an unforeseen sender-Chris Winkler! Despite the
foreshadowing of the email, I still had no clue that a package was on its
way. What a wonderful surprise!
After having quite a rough month, this could not possibly
have come at a better time. It was
simply amazing, and not only for the obvious reasons (sour patch kids, teddy
grahams, goldfish, MILANOS, fig newtons, Nature Materials!!, crystal lite,
colored pencils, pens, gum, random stuff), but because it came from one of the
most unexpected places ever: Lebow 340.
An office I spent A LOT of time in. A place we came to study, do homework,
analyze data, write publications, drink beers and complain, and unfortunately
sleep and call home at times. A lot of
fun times were had in Lebow 340. A lot of memories.
The best part about the package wasn’t the goodies that I
have come to cherish so dearly, but the hand written notes from each of the
guys I shared that office with; Chris Winkler, Darin, Sean, Jake, Jerry, and Matt! I especially enjoyed the Quote List that you
included, which was most likely still taped to the desk where I had originally
stuck it 2.5 years ago. The best part is
it came from you guys!
I cant express my gratitude for spending all the money to
send me some snacks to remind me of home.
And I most certainly cannot express how much it made my day to see all
the notes from you guys. It is the best
feeling in the world to know that people at home are thinking of you. Thank you
so much boys!
My only complaint is that a few days after opening the package,
I swear my nodes were swollen. Whatever
is haunting the office came to SVG through the post and got me sick!
As I enter my mid-20s I have started to realize I am no
longer a carefree college student with no responsibilities other than waking
up, going to class, studying for exams, conducting research, and the occasional
rugby match and partying/enjoying life. It has been two years since I graduated
college with a Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering. My! how time has flown by! And as most people
like to point out (though I disagree with them- I still have a almost a year
(half of my service!) left) my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer is winding
down. Apparently it is time to start
thinking about getting back to “real life”. As though, what I am doing now is
not real. Not life.
According to most, getting back to real life is getting a job
in my profession. Most people keep insinuating that I should start applying for
jobs in the nanotech field. Some aren’t
even subtle about it. Because that 9-5
job, where you do meaningless, menial, mundane tasks is real important and is
making a huge difference in the world. I just don’t see how that is any more
real than what I am doing. One thing is for certain, and that is that “real
life” is easier and much more comfortable and stable than this life I'm living
now. But comfortable and stable also
means boring. Some imply that I need to stop running from my
responsibilities. But, in fact, I have
more responsibilities here as a peace corps volunteer than I ever did at home.
Most of my friends graduated and have started their careers;
some have really amazing jobs, some make tons of money, some moved, some
stayed, some got engaged, some got married. Since joining the Peace Corps, I
have missed or will miss 3 of my very best friends’ weddings, and 4 other close
friends’ weddings. Is this what real
life is? Graduating, getting a 9-5 job,
getting married, buying a house, having a mortgage, having a kid? If so, I do not want anything to do with
being a real adult in real life. Who says that what I'm doing is not
responsible or real or that I'm not living an adult life? I pay my rent, my
bills, cook everything from scratch, clean and wash by hand, teach children to
read, teach adults IT skills, started a library, all while doing it alone. I have no one to rely on, except myself. At least in real life you have family and
friends close by.
I deal with real issues every day. I deal with students who
are abused, starving, and cant read, some who quite possibly have no future. I
have to manage my finances so that I have enough money by the end of the month
to eat, forgoing for a bottle of cheap white rain shampoo). I'm sure most of you in the “real world”
aren’t making decisions such as: should I eat my sandwich today or give it to
the starving student who helps me in the library? What should I do about the
child that tells me they are being sexually abused? What do I do about
addressing discipline issues without resorting to corporal punishment, when
that is all the students will respond to? What do I do about the student who can’t
come to school because she needs to watch her younger siblings? What do I do
about the student who can’t afford pens, pencils or notebooks, and stops coming
to school so he can work to provide for his family instead?
I'm not saying that there aren’t real issues in the States
too, or that having a 9-5 job, starting a family, etc. is any less significant,
but I just wish that I didn’t have to constantly explain myself and my
choices. This is real life. If I were
avoiding “real life”, I most definitely would have chosen something much