Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yippee! and Yikes!

That was the response of a friend (Russ Lawrence, PCV Peru, 2009-present) when I told him that I’d been “invited” to be a Peace Corps volunteer. It so succinctly captured my feelings of elation and anxiety that I had to use it as the title of my first post. I may adopt it as my motto!

I’ll be serving as an education volunteer in Lesotho (lih-soo-too), a small country entirely surrounded by South Africa, and I’ll be starting in November.


Absolutely. This is the culmination of a process that began last October when I attended a Peace Corps recruitment meeting in Grand Rapids. I’d flirted with the idea of Peace Corps since 1960 when John F. Kennedy proposed the idea in a speech at the University of Michigan. I was 16 at the time, and I said to myself, “Someday…” I wasn’t thinking 50 years into the future, of course. Three years ago, I went to a Peace Corps recruiting meeting in Lansing, about 90 minutes away. It just sounded right to me, and I said to myself, “When I retire…,” thinking five or six years off. The meeting last fall reminded me how right it felt, and I said, “Why not now?” I checked with my financial planner to make sure I could meet my financial obligations while away, talked to family and some friends, and formally applied in early February. Now, six months later, I’ve finally heard the good news. YIPPEE!


Absolutely! Peace Corps is real now, not just a dream. A real continent, a real country, a real job…and a real deadline!

There’s good anxiety and bad anxiety, of course, and I’m capable of both.

I had three months to get ready, which should be ample time, but there are a million big and little things to do, like moving out of my apartment, continuing to do my job (executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association) through our fall trade show, October 8-10, and packing. That last could be the biggest anxiety of all. I earned the nickname the Earl of Luggage during a 3-day trip to Stratford years ago. But Peace Corps doesn’t want the Earl of Luggage. They have very clear size and weight restrictions. C’mon, I’m going to be gone for 27 months, and all I can take is 100 pounds?

What was that about good anxiety?

Oh, yeah, there's something that’s more like heightened anticipation, like the butterflies athletes and performers have before an event – an edge that improves their performance. Wait a minute...I used to puke before football games! YIKES!

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