The toughest job you’ll ever love

One of Peace Corp’s famous expressions is, “The toughest job you’ll ever love.”

It’s written in bright white font against a photo of a rural village somewhere in Asia or Africa. It’s stated in your invitation packet. And they remind you again when you are at staging, hours away from entering the adventure.

But you never understand how true it is until you live it, the tough and the love.

Last week was one of my low points. Some issues came up with work and I was beginning to doubt my presence here. Frustration and uselessness took over. What good am I really going to do? Are these feelings worth all that I gave up to be here? I understand that I am not going to change the world, but I wanted something to better because of my role in the village. However, last week I didn’t see any glimmer of that happening.

Over the weekend, after some much needed America Time and venting to other current and former PCVs through email, I decided I was going to take on a better attitude this week. I was going to keep relighting my optimism and not let the bumps throw me off.

Monday was another bad day. Semester exams were approaching and my students appeared to have little care for passing over failing. I was again frustrated and struck with uselessness. Would these feelings ever go away, I wondered.

Tuesday was better. A student who had been struggling all year and with seemingly no motivation came to me after class and asked me to re-explain a concept that would show up on the test. We worked for an hour, going over tenses, until he could solve problems correctly. He then asked for an assignment so he could practice at home. Before then I had little faith in this kid, but I was delighted to be proved wrong.

The next day I went to town for Peace Corps work. Hannah and I are taking over as field coordinators for the African Library Project and we were working with Amy Jo, the current coordinator, on how the project operates and gathering library applications for this year. There was lots of paper organizing and emailing, sort of like office work in America. It was fun and put me back in the go-getter mood that was nearly squashed the week before.

Then, yesterday, something big happened. It was one of those moments so full of hope that nothing in the past seems relevant anymore.

Yes, this job is tough. Yes, it brings me to my knees sometimes, maybe to the point of giving up. But I don’t. Because I know that the love point will come. And when it does, it will be so much greater than all the tough.

It’s tough but I do indeed love it.

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