How Being In The Peace Corps Is Like Being a Jew Wandering In The Desert

By Michaela Sanchez

Being a volunteer in the Peace Corps is kind of like being a Jew wondering through the desert after leaving Egypt. You left everything behind, you have to be flexible and adapt to a new situation, and you probably had to take cold bucket baths.

Now, the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years waiting to settle in the land of Cannan and we only volunteered to do this for the next two years so my ancestors certainly had it tougher. But I thought it would be fun for you to hear what Conor and I have adjusted to in our 8 months as volunteers and how those adjustment compare to the ones the Jews were forced to make as well:

1. Transportation (or lack there of)
Ok, so it’s not walking through the desert for hundreds of miles but we do have to take the bus everywhere we go, and they are usually very crowded and very hot. If you ever wondered how many people could actually fit onto one school bus, you may be interested to know that Nicaragua is in hot pursuit of breaking the record on a daily basis.

2. At times you wonder if you’re on the right path.
Like the wanderers, we’ve had days when we wonder if we are headed in the right direction but again and again something happens that confirms our commitment to being here.

3. The feeling of being liberated.
Ok, again, you can’t draw direct parallels here, however, Conor and I feel more freedom then ever in our careers. We are lucky to have great superiors who have high expectations of our work but also encourage and support our ideas. Hard work didn’t stop for the Israelites after they were liberated but the feeling of a brighter future on the horizon was certainly something that motivated them to continue on their journey.

4. Change is hard at first, but you get used to things with time.
I have realized that a lot of the things that used to bother me when I first moved here have started to bother me less, I’m not thinking of things I miss as much as I did, and I’m really starting to just laugh at every crazy situation that is thrown my way. I feel pride when I speak Spanish with the grandmother that I couldn’t understand when I first arrived and I think this means that I’m getting better.

So this Passover as we reflect back on the journey that our ancestors made, I’m going to remember my journey arriving here (and the journey thousands of other Peace Corps volunteers are making) and how far I’ve come in a short amount of time and how far I still have to go. It certainly pales in comparison to the journey they made but I like to think that I’ve somehow inherited some of their chutzpah to keep me going.

Chag Pesach!


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