Peace Corps 10 for 3 (10 Things for 3rd Goal)

My friend Erica Burman, who works with the National Peace Corps Association, shared this idea on Facebook. She hoped it would encourage other Peace Corps Volunteers, in honor of the Peace Corps' 50th Anniversary this year, to take a few minutes to reflect on their Peace Corps service and come up with 10 great memories to encourage the 3rd Goal of Peace Corps: to bring the world back home. Here are ten memories that came to my mind.

Country: Mongolia
Years: 2008-2011
Assignment: Health

  1. Starting from day one, I swore we had the best training group. We were also the biggest, most diverse, intense and hilarious group ever. This included Matt bringing a three-man balloon launcher just because.
  2. In our last week of training, our entire training site went out to a special camp to have a celebration. By the end of the night, a flash storm hit that was so bad it ripped apart what seemed like half the fences in our community, tore roofs off buildings and knocked power out for several days. That night was also one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
  3. Travis isn't very easy to say in Mongolian, so I have been called everything from Choibalsan (a city/former president's name) to Tarvis (watermelon). 
  4. After losing sixty (unneeded) pounds in my first year, my hospital director saw a picture of my family before I left America and said, "Wow, your older brother looks just like you, just fatter!" I told her that was true, and that was me. That's the only time I've ever seen her cheeks red.
  5. The worst day of my Peace Corps service involved stomach problems and an 11-hour bus ride that made three stops.
  6. At the end of our first year, the idea for Peace Corps Merit Badges came up and in one year it was able to help a small group of elderly women earn two years' salary. This was very rewarding and cool.
  7. At our COS conference we were lucky enough to have RPCV photographer Richard Sitler coming through Mongolia, so we got probably one of the best COS pictures ever. Everyone thinks it's fake.
  8. It took four years to write, but when I finished my 27th month of Peace Corps service I finally self-published the Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. It's sold hundreds of copies and raised hundreds of dollars for Peace Corps projects worldwide. This was also very rewarding and cool.
  9. At the end of language training during PST, my language instruction said I was a very good student but I could have been better if I took notes. I just listened and stared at her every class. Today, three years later, my speaking and listening in Mongolian are pretty good, but my writing is terrible.
  10. Connecting with the National Peace Corps Association while still serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer has been incredible. I know the world is different from what it used to be, but I feel lucky to be in this digital age where Skype, blogs, Facebook and everything else allows us to engage in the Third Goal every step of our Peace Corps journey. Thank you all!

Our Crazy Training Neighborhood Group (Summer 2009)

Our Sacred Mountain Altan Ovoo in Sukhbaatar (Summer 2009)

Home for My Sister's Wedding with Little Tunga (Summer 2009)

Close of Service Conference Photo (Summer 2010)

Tsagaan Sar Celebration with Tunga's Family (Spring 2011)

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