Back before Twitter, Google+ and, even Facebook, we used MSN Instant Messenger. It was the beginning of the status update when you could change your screen name to whatever you felt like it should be that day. When I should’ve been studying or reading the world’s greatest novels, I would come up with clever screen names to boast to all of my IM friends.
During my freshman year of college, I came up with this little ditty: Suzie High School goes to college.
In my delusional brain I saw myself as Suzie High School, not because I was popular or went to a lot of parties – I did not – but because I was highly involved. A three-sport athlete, I lettered in band, choir and theatre. I was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper, on the yearbook design team and member of the National Honor’s Society. I also served on youth boards for the Red Cross and United way and worked two jobs, in addition to coaching swim team and attending Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings. Over. Achiever.
When I headed west on Highway 14 to see that beautiful Campanile, I engaged there with what I could. I joined a few religious groups, immediately started writing for The Collegian (the flagship of my college experience), ran for a seat on the residence leadership board and had my own, highly entertaining show on the campus radio station. I think I even went to a Young Republicans meeting once, which is highly laughable now. (I refuse to align myself to a political party because of my beliefs and past life as a reporter.)
In that new setting, I felt the desire to be involved with everything that I could. I wanted to taste as much as I could and it all looked delicious. Eventually, I paired down my activities in college but by senior year I was still incredibly busy and I liked it that way.
During my short time in Lesotho, I am learning a lot about myself and what I have learned is that I am not just someone who floats through. I like to be involved in the action and sometimes that is not always a good thing. I do overextend myself and I do add more stress that necessary, but I thrive off being busy. I know that if I ever have kids I will be a member of the PTAs, in charge of bringing treats to little league games and a volunteer coach or instructor of some activity. It’s just who I am.
Now as a Peace Corps Volunteer I find that desire to be involved in all is hotter than ever. I make it known to my community that I want to come to all meetings, even if they are all in Sesotho, and I try to play a role in any activity at my school.
Same for the Peace Corps side. At just six months in, I am already on three committees: District AIDs Representatives, each district delegates one volunteer to this committee, which designs best practices for dealing with HIV/AIDs in Lesotho and distributes to other volunteers; African Library Project, along with my neighbor Hannah, I am a co-facilitator in helping schools and volunteers who want libraries match with this organization who finds donors in the U.S. to organize book drives; and Peer Support Network, a group of trained volunteers dedicated to offering advice or a listening ear to anyone going through the highs and lows of being a PCV.
I have two years in this country and with Peace Corps – a very small fraction of time set up against a lifetime – and I want to know that I seized every opportunity I could. It’s my make up. That Susie do-all in me will always be there, and I have accepted that. I even enjoy it.