The Before and The After

It feels like Peace Corps moves faster than anything in my life has ever moved. When I sit down with my Peace Corps friends and talk about arriving in Mongolia two years ago or when I think about how much has happened since I first opened that invitation packet, I become more and more confident in telling current Volunteers that it will fly by. Maybe because it has been fun, new, exciting, unbelievable and confusing or maybe because it's been unlike anything else I have ever experienced in my life... two years in Peace Corps goes by amazingly fast.

I had a wonderful dinner tonight with great friends, the first Volunteers I met and shook hands with more than 30 months ago as we flew across the ocean together to serve in Mongolia. As Judy, a wonderful Peace Corps Volunteer who I admire greatly, said tonight, "Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday and sometimes it feels like it was an eternity ago." I couldn't agree more. As I looked into the eyes of my fellow Volunteers, my friends, it's almost as if I could see both people - the before and the after. I can feel that in myself. I am the same as I was and I'm different. I'm still naive and crazy, even though I do know better now in many cases. I still eat crazy foods and don't exercise as often as I should, even though I weigh 60 pounds less than I did before Peace Corps. And I still have the same unreasonable idealism, even though I have seen more difficulties and inequities now than ever.

Maybe it feels like yesterday and an eternity ago because, at some level, there is a part of us that is still experiencing every moment as if it is the first time. Almost as if the soul doesn't experience time at all. And if there is anything that I can say about the Peace Corps Volunteers I saw tonight, and all the ones I admire, they have a lot of soul.