peace corps

Being Separated from the Peace Corps

Peace Corps was my dream since I was seventeen. I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, and a video ad popped up on my sidebar with the title, “Watch this video, and it will change your life.” I was cynical, but I opened it anyway. It was a Peace Corps ad, and it did end up changing my life. From that moment on, I was obsessed with learning about what Peace Corps is and does, and how I could be apart of it. In all my imaginings about these two years, I couldn’t dream I would be separated from the Peace Corps.

Instead, I dreamed of living in a Spanish-speaking country, working in economic development. Obviously, that plan was changed for me and I’m glad that my experience was done the adventurous Peace Corps way instead of mine. And the feeling of having such a precious experience taken from you is so, so difficult.

It’s already been official for a month, and it still doesn’t feel real.

Even when I decided to tell the Peace Corps office about what I’d dealt with, I was in major denial. Denial that it was anything serious, and denial that I should be sent home over it. But I did need that. I needed therapy, and for that therapy to take place in an environment with my American support system.

It became clear that going back to Ukraine just wasn’t feasible. I hadn’t progressed with treatment after six weeks, and there are other reasons I won’t go detail here. It was devastating. I had no plan, my health insurance was running out, and I felt defeated. I had to figure out my next step, and fast. But I was still healing as well. This was definitely not a good combo for a go-go-go person like me. But in this season, I’ve learned more about myself than in the rest of my life.

I know now that everything’s going to be okay as long as I take things one day at a time, be patient with myself, and keep working hard.

After I received word that I was officially under interrupted service status (meaning that my service was ended by Peace Corps for reasons beyond my control), I felt so many things at once. Relief at being removed from some situations that were detrimental to my safety, guilt at not being able to go back to my community, sadness at missing my Peace Corps friends, and stress at what to do next.

Even though there were some very difficult aspects of my Peace Corps service, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a better, more resilient person because of my time in Ukraine. This is just a goodbye for now. I definitely have unfinished business with Peace Corps. Who knows? Maybe some of my future blog posts on Sarah L. Travels will be from another Peace Corps assignment.

When those negative thoughts of guilt, failure, and anxiety befall me in this adjustment period, I am comforted by the knowledge that everything happens for a reason. I know whatever may be in store for me will be just as much of an adventure as Peace Corps. And I can’t wait.

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