I finally received my medical clearance! The final barrier to my Peace Corps service has fallen. Only people who have gone through Peace Corps medical know how truly arduous clearance is, or how wonderful it feels to be done after four long months.
But this long-awaited victory is somewhat bittersweet. As I mentioned in my last Fears post, my biggest concerns about Peace Corps service is what will happen at home while I’m gone. In light of recent events and the hateful attacks here, my fears are even greater. I don’t say this in an attempt to blame a particular group of people, but merely in acknowledgement that many hate attacks have been committed recently against our brothers and sisters. I’ve even considered that perhaps I’m more needed at home than in the Peace Corps. But every person I’ve talked to about these fears has reiterated that it is equally important to project the loving, diverse, and inclusive America overseas now. Fear fuels so much of our current tensions, and we cannot let fear win.
On this day above all others I as a Peace Corps Volunteer must hold my head up high and remember the reasons for serving my country. On this day it is important to acknowledge the pain, frustration, anxiety and disgust that envelopes many of us. On this day I must demonstrate to my learners, to my village, and to all that I meet that the United States is more than what we read in newspapers and see on TV. On this day I must prove that as a Hispanic, Jewish female with an immigrant father, that I matter, that I can continue to be a role model for others, and that my voice cannot be contained regardless of who is in power. On this day I must remember to show compassion for my nation that is reeling from great pain. On this day I must remember that there is a future, one that can be brightened by spreading the message of peace, equity, and kindness. On this day, while I hurt and rage and feel sick to my stomach, I must strive for a path forward. On this day I must remember that some days are truly horrible, that the hurt and fear felt is exponentially greater for many and that I remain incredibly lucky to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa.