Thoughts on life after Peace Corps

The primary purpose of a blog kept by a Peace Corps Volunteer is to relay the story of life in another country as an American volunteer to those who are curious.  It’s so hard to describe the experience to someone back home, that small, consistent updates, anecdotes, and photos have become the best way to let people know what Peace Corps life is like (or at least what we want family members to think PC life is like).

Lots of PCVs also write a few posts before they  leave, like I did.  It’s a way to frame the way the blog is going to look, give background to how they got to where they are, and publish the ubiquitous packing list that so many PCVs like to publish.

Unfortunately, the story that often goes untold is the one about life after the Peace Corps.  Seeing old friends and family, showering, and using a washing machine all seem so great that there isn’t much to write about.  People know about that stuff.  Daily life, which was once an interesting narrative in itself, becomes too common for anyone to care about.  Going grocery shopping in the Peace Corps is an interesting experience.  Going shopping in America isn’t.  Not for Americans at least.

It’s unfortunate that this part of the story is often left out.  There’s an experience there that needs to be told.

Coming home has been confusing at times.  I thought that I was totally comfortable and back like nothing changed, but one night I realized that I didn’t feel like I had anything to say to anyone.  I was tired of saying that I was a Peace Corps Volunteer because that wasn’t my identity anymore.  Besides, there was no way that they could really understand what I was telling them.  Not in the way I would want them too at least.  I was also tired of saying that I was unemployed because it just reminded myself that I didn’t have the same purpose in my life that I recently had.

There have also been some nice surprises in coming back.  Seeing family members that I hadn’t seen for two years really reminded me of the great support that I have.  Having friends that are excited to see you let’s you know that you were missed while you were gone.  And of course, the comforts that America affords have been great.

I don’t want to make this post too long, so over the next few weeks I want to write about life after Peace Corps Azerbaijan.  I hope that it will be a way for me to clarify some of my experiences as well as give others insight into some of the challenges of returning to the U.S. after Peace Corps service.

3 responses to “Thoughts on life after Peace Corps

  1. Jeff, good introduction. I suppose you are going through some changes right now. The same thing happened to me when i got back to Azerbaijan from the States. I am still having a culture shock. This shock, discomfort, crisis in my soul pushes me towards generating more and more ideas, towards new deeds for accomplishing my goals. Would be very nice to hear your story. Miss you man. I might come up there in April.

  2. Ha. I had to be in a wedding a month after I got back, and being around people who weren’t my nuclear family for a whole three days was really disorienting.

    I liked the part where I only had about three sets of clothes and couldn’t spend a lot of money on more, and it seemed like an acceptable amount of clothes to me, but isn’t to anyone else I know here. Since I was unemployed and didn’t have to be anywhere everyday, luckily, no one noticed.

  3. @Ruslan – I’d love to see you up here man. It’d be a blast. Unfortunately, I don’t find the confusion of being home to be inspiring. Not at this point.

    @Vecoliraptor – I hear ya about the clothes. I had two pairs of clothes that I wore out in europe. It wasn’t much, but it was fine. I went back home and looked through all my old clothes and realized that I used to justify having 25 t-shirts.

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