Travis Hellstrom is in Mongolia with the Peace Corps. And he’s finding it difficult to leave.
This is my favorite Peace Corps poster of all time.
Runner up is this one that came out last week on Facebook: the most difficult challenge is leaving. I couldn’t agree more.
As I mentioned in my first post here on The Good Men Project, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia from 2008 until 2011. I served my required 27 months and then tacked on an extra 13 just for fun. Peace Corps changed my life forever and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. But apparently I’ve tried.
I wrote 300+ blog posts about Peace Corps, then a book, then another, and then taught a 6-week world wide class about it which just finished last week. I might have a problem… Yeah, I definitely have a problem. I’m an RPCV.
Like every government organization, in Peace Corps we have a lot of jargon: PCT, PCV, CD, PCMO, PST, PDM, ET, CP, PDM, on and on. Probably the most popular term however is RPCV–Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. It refers to a Peace Corps Volunteer who has finished their service overseas and returned home to America. If I had my way though, it would stand for Recovering Peace Corps Volunteer–recovering from heart-breaking, worldview-exploding, life-changing awesomeness.
A key to my recovery has been writing. It’s always helped me think and conveniently writing also allows me to scale the thoughts beyond just myself. But even writing can only go so far. How do we scale conversations and relationships? It’s not easy, but that’s what we tried to do with Peace Corps 101.
Just like Lisa mentioned this week in The Good Men Project, technology is letting us scale conversations exponentially. It’s really exciting to watch. In our Peace Corps 101 class we were able to bring together Peace Corps applicants, Volunteers, RPCVs, Peace Corps staff, members of the National Peace Corps Association and people from all around the world (and raise money for Peace Corps at the same time). I was even able to teach the class from all the way over here in Mongolia.
As Erica said on our final call last night, “for a long time Peace Corps Volunteers traveled around the world and then ‘returned’ to bring the world back home to America–now that world is right here.” Tweets, statuses, pins, likes and texts are tightening our connections everywhere all the time. In my opinion, that makes recovering from awesomeness easier now than ever.
Gone are the days when Peace Corps Volunteers had to disappear into their isolated communities hundreds of miles from a telephone line. Now that’s often an option but not a requirement. Want to connect with PCVs half the world away to see how they’re doing and how you might be able to work together to solve a community problem? Go for it. Want to get funding for a project through collaborative funding on the Peace Corps website? Do it. Wanna use a 3D-printer to build a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Wait for it… (this will happen I’m sure)
My point is, the world is smaller than ever but it still needs you, me, and everyone to realize how much influence we really have. You don’t have to leave the country to change the world. Heck, you don’t even have to leave your flippin’ couch! You and I just need to throw ourselves head-first into awesomeness.
Come on. Jump in. We’ll be waiting for you.
Photos courtesy of Peace Corps