Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Beginning of Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Who thought that I would actually be living my dream life after graduation? The idea of becoming a Peace Corps volunteer has been growing in my mind for years.  Over those years, never once did I stop to consider that becoming a volunteer is one of my more attainable goals.  Even now I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that, yes, I, Shruti, am an official sworn-in volunteer. True, I did not imagine that I would be serving anywhere close to the Caribbean.  Instead, I had pictured myself standing outside of a thatched roof house wearing ethnic clothing, lugging water home from a well, and hopelessly attempting to learn a new language in a country no one at home had heard about.   Although this part of my dream will forever remain in my imagination, I’ve come to realize that while many people have a hard time imagining the Eastern Caribbean as a developing region, there is much to be done here.

I am nowhere close to figuring out what these next two years are going to mean for me, but I have an ever growing list of things that I want to get done.  Let me give you an idea of what my life looks like right now.  My primary worksite is a public Roman Catholic primary school right across the street from my house.  My first day at work was Monday.  When I arrived, the principal gave me a list of students recommended by teachers for a remedial class.  Therefore, I am spending this week administering a standardized reading screen developed by a previous Peace Corps volunteer and Grenada’s Ministry of Education.  It’s a rather tedious task, but it will help me organize my classes and create a curriculum.

I’m having a hard time fitting into this teacher role since it is so far off my career path, but over the last couple of days I have realized how much reading matters.  It’s one of those things that I've taken for granted.  We all know that learning to read is important, but have you ever sat down to really consider how essential it is?  Every aspect of my life, from professional to personal is driven by my ability and love for reading and writing.  I read all the time, at all hours of the day, and in all settings regardless of whether or not it’s appropriate.  I read recipes to cook, I read signs to get around, I read books to learn, I read newspapers to stay connected, and I read the shampoo bottle to keep me entertained while I shower.  It’s like breathing. You do it without even realizing. If I can teach these kids how to read, I will be opening their lives to so much. It’s crazy scary how much of an impact one person can have at a micro level.  Hopefully, this one person’s idealism will practically manifest itself during the next two years.

Ready,  Get Set, & Go!

EC 84 Volunteers after swearing in