One of the hardest parts of coming home from the Peace Corps is the identity crisis that comes with re-entry to the United States. As open-ended and confusing as Peace Corps service may be, there is a very clear mission when compared to the “what now?” realization that newly minted RPCVs are forced to deal with.
This also comes into play when you talk to people who don’t understand the Peace Corps experience. Unless you’ve done Peace Corps, talked frequently with someone who did, or kept up with a PCV’s blog, you’re going to have a hard time picturing the experience. I rarely mention it to people I meet any more. In the same breath, I’ve become pretty apt at judging whether or not people who ask “what have you been up to?” are just being polite or not. I usually just tell people I was teaching English for two years in the former soviet union. A true statement that doesn’t even begin to describe it all.