Monday, January 19, 2009


I want to go to another place and enter it fully. I want to become part of a new community and not taint it with the essence of my own. My one fear of becoming a Peace Corps volunteer is that I don’t want to tempt others toward the evils of my own culture: greed, over-consumption, and more choices than we even can dream of and that we in no way need.

My life goal is to make up for the dent in the earth- the gash-that my life has made in it. I am an American and I want to live a life away from here because, as an American, I am spoiled, lavished in luxury while a baby halfway across the world is starving and crawling with flies. I am spoiled as we continue to drill deeper into the earth, sucking it dry of the precious resources so we can wear a sweater indoors on a sweltering day. I am ashamed of how we are put on this pedestal and how easy it is to forget that there are others around the world living a life that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy.

I know I can learn many lessons from non-americans and I know that it is my deepest passion to help direct them toward a life by learning from our mistakes. I want to learn how to help them but I don’t want them to think that I see myself as some all-mighty savior. I don’t want to offend them, but rather see if we can learn from each other and join together toward a better future.

As a field biologist, I’ve seen nature in its purest form and I know that very few Americans have encountered this. I am sorry for them and I feel very fortunate for my experiences. Through my work, I’ve gained a great skill in observation and a huge respect for the unfamiliar. The differences are what make culture culture and I don’t want to erase that-I want to help it persist.

Out of the Woodwork

The summer of ‘04 I worked at an eco-lodge in Costa Rica as the assistant to the head landscaper. His name was Wilbur and he spoke no English. I had taken Spanish in high school, three years prior and recalled despising that class. The teacher was more concerned with my disobedient and horribly rude classmates than making sure the rest of us had learned anything. I figured I had gained little from that class and thought nothing of it again until I was faced with Wilbur, this kind faced, hard working man who made quick work of a pineapple and presented it to me like a popsicle. At first I was shy to make my attempts at his language until his patience and kind laughter won me over. The language came out of me like mice out of the woodwork. I didn’t know it was there ‘til I shook things up a bit. With Wilbur and the rest of the Tican staff, I became good friends. I entered their world and their culture with enthusiasm, respect and curiosity. I played soccer with them, learned how they dance, folded banana leaves into beautiful forms, used their slang words, we tutored each other in our languages, we became family. I loved the excitement of leaving my home behind, learning how people lived worlds away from mine. I treasure the aspect of community that seems to be held in such higher esteem than it is in the states. I look forward to visiting more in the future.