August 2015 Guidepost to Wholehearted Living
Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
As countries around the world seek to advance and connect, Peace Corps Volunteers of the 21st century have access to technology that their predecessors never dreamed of. But with the power of access comes great responsibility; the Peace Corps Blog was born. Volunteers often start blogging strong. Their excitement fuels updates, committing cultural faux pas provide easy and hilarious content, and everything seems so new…for a while.
Then an incredible transition happens. Through integration, gaining cultural understanding, and the simple passing of time, a PCV’s host country becomes a little more like home. Volunteers might say later that this is when they really started to feel like they hit their stride, but it is also often where their blogging faded away. It doesn’t have to be though.
Keeping a Peace Corps Blog can be meaningful and worthwhile work. Even if it hasn’t been updated in what you feel is too long, here are six reasons to find some Internet, get yourself a cup of tea (or mate, or kava, or airag, or…) , and give blogging another go:
- Peace Corps’ 3rd Goal: “to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.” – Sharing about our host country, people, customs, and more is literally a third of our job description. While our 3rd goal work continues long after we return to the states, you will never again have such a captivated audience as you do during your actual service. Whether you’re a month in, a year in, or only have a few months left, it’s never too late to capitalize on that intrigue. Peace Corps blogging can be an integral part of your job as a volunteer.
- Blog to record your memories and to create a treasure trove of stories. – When we’re living an adventure, it’s easy to think that we will remember every little detail for the rest of our lives: how bright and colorful the houses are, the smells of the market, the way the children run and tackle you when you arrive at school. And while we will remember a lot, there’s much and more that can be lost to time. Blogging your stories and experiences, both big and small, can help you create a collection to look back on years in the future.
- Writing can be a creative outlet and/or a new skill to hone. – Creative PCVs can find a wonderful release in the craft of writing, but even those who do not consider themselves wordsmiths have something to gain as well. Learning or improving your writing skills makes you more competitive in today’s work world. Resumes and cover letters get your foot in the door, succinct and effective reports are essential for funding and grants, and a well-crafted email can almost be considered magic.
- Reflective volunteers are effective volunteers. – In the world of education, having a reflective practice is highly encouraged. As an educator and PCV in the Education Sector, I’ve personally experienced the value of reflecting on my lessons, connections, struggles and successes and believe they have made me a better teacher. The same can be said for Peace Corps Volunteers. Blogging gives Volunteers both a platform for personal and professional reflection. Reflections on successes as well as struggles can also help readers understand why Peace Corps is called the “toughest job you’ll ever love.”
- Seeing is believing. – Using pictures and media brings your stories to life. While some friends and family might be lucky enough to visit you in country and immerse themselves in your post first hand, for the rest of the world your stories will be just that, stories. Blogging gives PCVs a chance to combine stories with visuals and sounds to help those back home experience a bit of the country you’ve come to love.
- You never know what connections you’ll make! – If your blog is open for anyone to view, you never know who might stumble upon your site and connect with you. Whether RPCVs from your host country, current PCVs stationed in posts around the world, or people from non-profits looking to connect with someone on the ground to get a project running, you are the world’s oyster. Once we even had someone who works at Peace Corps Headquarters send us this:
“I was asked to provide a quick story of Education Volunteer success for the Performance and Accountability Review that goes to Congress annually. On a hunch, I went to yours and Andrew’s blog and pulled off your comment on the STEP program. So you’ve helped us justify ourselves to Congress.”
In this ever-increasingly connected world, connections matter, and your blog can help you reach contacts you never dreamed of.
Whether you started blogging strong and slowly faded, or you’re still posting away, may these 6 reasons help you vanquish your writer’s block and reconnect you to the meaningful work that is Peace Corps blogging.