This time 7 years ago I was preparing to leave the US for the summer to study Arabic in Morocco. This wasn’t the first time I had been abroad, but it was the first time I wasn’t going abroad on vacation. For six weeks, I lived with a host family and studied Arabic in Rabat. I practiced bartering in Arabic on the streets of the old medina, I learned how to be respectful in Moroccan society, and I drank tea by the liter. And when I returned, I was a vastly different person than when I left.
Since that experience, I have traveled to learn about the culture and the people. I love playing with languages and studying how culture has influenced words and phrases. It’s incredible to listen to a person describe their day to day life and see the interplay between all the societal factors. What continues to shock me is that despite how small the world is now, people still live in their own circles, which I know nothing about.
From September to November last year I was a part of Peace Corps Mozambique, but I had to return at the beginning of December. Despite this unfortunate turn of events, I was able to come home and get a job teaching high school. I’ve been able to continue to practice photography in a variety of different settings. Most importantly, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what’s important to me and what I want to with my life.
I’m proud to say that I’ve committed to going to Guinea with the Peace Corps as an education volunteer.
Making this Decision
I don’t make this decision lightly. For a while, I wasn’t sure if Peace Corps was the right path for what I wanted to do. When I last made this decision, I didn’t know what day to day life really looked like, or what to expect, or how to deal with the bureaucracy. Leaving the States for two years, no matter the circumstances is a big decision. I had a friend say that there are four types of people who join the Peace Corps:
1. Resume builders
2. Adventure seekers
I think any volunteer is a combination of these four things, plus something a little special of their own. For instance, I was definitely a mix of **2** and **3** the first time around. I was right out of college and didn’t want to get a “normal” job. Plus, I’m an adventure seeker at heart. That hasn’t changed at all; I’m still heading to Guinea with an adventure mindset. But, instead of running away from something here (escapist), I’m heading towards something there (idealist).
Peace Corps has three goals:
- To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
- To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of peoples served.
- To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
I’m sure that I’ll talk about all of these at some point, but it’s the third one that makes me excited right now. Ever since arriving in Morocco 7 years ago and first experiencing what it’s like to live in another culture, my world has been constantly expanding. This has affected me in all of my decisions since, and I love discussing it with others by trading stories about different parts of the world.
With my love of photography and videography plus my personal passion embodied in the third Peace Corps goal, I’m going to work really hard to share Guinea with all of you.
Suffice to say, for the next two years my social media is gonna be lit.
Now, this won’t be a one-sided effort. The real goal is to find some local people who are interested in photos and videos to work with me. But I think it will end up on three main avenues.
My favorite social media, Instagram is where I’ll show off all of my photos, plus tell you all in short captions what’s going on. It will range from my usual landscape photos to portraits of people in my community, to events going on around me. But all of it will focus on the people and culture of Guinea.
This will be for longer thoughts about a variety of topics. Could include Guinea culture, Peace Corps tips and observations, thoughts on books, and a lot more. If you like something that I’ve written, let me know so that I can do more of it!
Here I’ll put mini-documentaries and short films that talk about Guinea. Who knows, it depends on who I meet and if they’ll help me.
A lot of this is up in the air. And honestly, before I arrive in July, I won’t know what all of these things will look like. But if you believe in me and what my mission is, please share it with anyone you think would agree. Especially look at my Instagram and Facebook Page since that is where I’ll be giving updates.