It’s not just me and it’s not just you

This week, I observed the true efficiency and purpose of Peace Corps. I saw why I am proud to be a part of this mission, taking place around the world. Throughout my training period, the focus remains on the people of Cape Verde. For instance, everyone from the training staff, including language teachers and technical trainers, to our homestay families are Cape Verdeans. We not only benefit from learning by total immersion, we are also pumping money into the economy by providing employment for local people.
In addition, all volunteers who teach either middle or high school must successfully complete model school during training. Model school involves volunteers inviting young people from their respective community to participate in free language classes for a two-week period. Local children are learning English while volunteers are practicing and assessing their teaching methods. In essence, my training period is as much for the people of Cape Verde as it is for my benefit. A true partnership is in the works — an exchange of giving, taking and collaborating. My language teacher patiently fixes my broken Kriolu. I teach him English phrases. He introduces me to his friends and neighbors. I am teaching him how to swim. That’s a powerful idea. What if our entire education system centered on serving others, yet simultaneously maximized our learning potential?
My language teacher, fluent in at least 8 languages, chooses to live in Cape Verde and help his people. When I asked him why he does not take his family to live in the US or other developed nation, he said, “I do not like to see my people suffer.” He chooses to live in a country, absent of clean water and basic necessities, as a sole result of his desire to help and improve his country. His words play over and over in my head. Maybe it’s because I’m not sure I would have his courage, determination and sense of responsibility. If there were better opportunities abroad for myself as well as my family, I think selfishness would triumph.
I am finding it difficult to fight against the American mentality of individuality. We unconsciously grow up associating happiness with financial success and independence. When we no longer need the assistance of our parents, we have reached adulthood. In contrast, my teacher unconsciously associates happiness with his people. The value of his dollar is in a chance to see his neighbor attend college or to see his community establish an effective waste system. It is about working to build a community, rather than working to build himself. I am certain, through people like him, we will forever change the face of our world.

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1 Response to It’s not just me and it’s not just you

  1. Steve says:

    Krista, this validates my belief that the only way to change the world is through individuals acting to better the lives of others. Only when people put the needs of others before themselves do we see improvement. Helping others needs to have a face – person to person, or group to group. There has to be interaction between people for change to occur. The other part of the equation for change and improvement is education, which is what you are all about in your work.Be well and safe.Much Love,Mr. P

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