“Any road trip is going to feel longer than you think it will. And you will be tired and you won’t get a meal exactly when you are hungry. You never find a bed exactly when you want to go to sleep. And you probably aren’t going to find out what it is that you got on the road to find out in the first place. And you know all of that. You know all of that going into it. You still, we all still, buy into the cliche about road trips. That what a road trip stand for is hope, hope that somewhere, anywhere, is better than here. That somewhere on the road, I will turn into the person that I want to be. I will turn into the person that I believe I could be, the person that I am.”
Ira Glass, with a voice as smooth as his last name would suggest, gently said those words to me today. OK, he wasn’t talking to me specifically, but to listeners of “This American Life.” But the way the words sailed from my car speakers to my ears I swear he was talking to me.
It would’ve been natural for to me to apply this statement to the numerous road trips I’ve taken over the years, which all held expectations for me to uncover some great truth about myself. Yet, the statements seemed to be more applicable to the journey I am about to face. So, going to the Peace Corps isn’t technically a trip, but I like to pretend that it is a detour on my life path, an extra turn to take the scenic route.
Part of me applied to the Peace Corps because I believe somewhere, anywhere, is better than here. I also believe that it will turn me into the person I know could be, the only I know I am. I joined the Peace Corps because I am sucker for hope, and this organization possess heaps of it: hope in humanity, hope in my country, hope in myself.
I’m aware that my expectations will probably not be met, but I also envision encountering the unexpected. I may not do all that I set out to do during my two years in Niger and I may not change the way I expect to change, but I know that life will be different after July 7.
This road trip will be the greatest of my life, and that’s not an expectation. It’s a fact.