Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Is being a Peace Corps volunteer lonely?
As a loner, being a Peace Corps volunteer is not lonely but overwhelmingly social.  There are so many social obligations.  People always want your time.  In West Africa, people would just show up at your doorstep and sit with you for hours.  Kids would squat at the gate into your compound and just stare.  In China, students want to be your friend and want to practice English.  Strangers want to make small talk and invite you to dinner because you are a foreigner.  Doing anything in the city, in the market, in public, you always feel like you are on a stage, surrounded by people, an audience, fans, the paparazzi.  It is hard to find alone time, to find a peaceful sanctuary away from people.
Is being a Peace Corps volunteer lonely?
As a loner who thrives on a few intimate friendships with whom I have shared interests, with whom I can have intriguing conversations about thought provoking questions, and with whom we share our passions, being a volunteer is lonely.  It is hard to find personal fulfilling connections in other countries where people are more traditional, where I can't be open about everything and where there are language barriers.  Having to censor myself, creates a strong sense of isolation.
This feeling of isolation is carried while being surrounded by people and social obligations, surrounded by a community who loves you and finds you super intriguing, who wants to get to know you better and be your best friend.  I smile.  I feed energy into the people I meet.  I exist happily in these social communities.
Yet I have experienced 4.5 years of living abroad and when I go back to the US how many true friends will I say I have made?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a fascinating blog, so well written, so introspective and thought provoking! I am bookmarking it so I can read as much as possible. The questions you ask and answers you explore are original, a rare quality these days. You have a lot to offer, not only to Americans living abroad but to any thinking persons who want to know themselves and where they fit in relation to the world.