The Peace Corps changed my life…even though I didn’t serve. I grew up in Montana. Other than Canada, I left the country one time when I was growing up – to go to an overly curated resort in Mexico with my grandparents.
My outlook on the world was deeply rooted in Western perspective and priorities. I went to college, then graduate school, then started a “real” job. My sister, on the other hand, joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to a community in Mozambique to teach high school biology. I took five weeks off and flew to Mozambique with no real set of expectations.
The plane door opened and the blast of hot, wet, African air blew everything I thought I knew about the world out of my head. Within an hour I walked a dirt path with my sister (and now brother-in-law) followed by a chorus of kids singing “muzungu!” – white person.
I watched beautiful women with dark skin and their babies tied to their backs with bright, dancing fabrics.
I bought not-quite-ripe mangoes from kids who shimmied down from the tall mango trees.
I ate fried termites in the marketplace.
I took an ice cold “bucket bath.” My head spun that night under my mosquito net, sweat flowing from every pore.
I had never seen or felt anything like this. My world cracked open.
I wanted more. I’ve never stopped wanting more.