Here’s Why

“What are your plans for after graduation?” – everyone

“I joined the Peace Corps” – me

Insert one of three responses:

1. “What’s the Peace Corps?”
2. “Wow that’s so cool! I could never do that.”
3. “Why?”

Aside from my parents’ initial denial and my lack of disclosure with everyone on my post-grad plans for a long time, Peace Corps had been my main goal since my trip to Tanzania in May of 2017. Not a very long time, I know, but even in high school I had toyed with the idea of joining the Peace Corps in my head. Tanzania was just the nudge I needed.

I wasn’t particularly vocal about my ambition to join because I wasn’t quite sure how obtainable it was, and to be frank… the idea of picking up my life and moving it so far from home and everyone I love so dearly scared the crap out of me. I only directly knew one person who had served in the Peace Corps (much love Mamma Jill), I really didn’t know what all it would entail, and I honestly thought I would be on my own in a foreign country with no one I love to support me. (a completely inaccurate thought I should add, but more on that another time)

18 December 2017

I received my invitation to serve in the Peace Corps as an English Language Co-teacher in Macedonia. It just got real. I just got vocal and now I have questions to answer.

1. “What’s the Peace Corps?”

Not being from DC, it really seemed like no one in Indiana knew what the Peace Corps was. Not even the people at the post office in my home town who thought I was applying for a fraudulent passport when I went in to get my Peace Corps passport knew what it was. So many people were asking me what the Peace Corps was, or thought that it ended with Kennedy’s presidency. Was there anyone in Indiana who had served in the Peace Corps?

Okay… so Indiana doesn’t produce the least amount of volunteers. In fact, we were in the top half in 2018. (If you’re curious about how many volunteers your state produced last year and since the Peace Corps began in 1961 you can find that here.) I guess I was just destined to be a Peace Corps educational resource for my friends and family. I’m not going to write it all out here, but hey, visit the Peace Corps website… educate yo’ self.

2. “Wow that’s so cool! I could never do that.”

Peace Corps is definitely not for everyone, but I think when most people think of the Peace Corps they think of Americans going to very rural places in the middle of Africa and having no access to anything. Well, I am not back in Africa, and as it turns out, there are volunteers in over 60 countries with varying amounts of access to “western” recourses. While my experience will most likely be coined “Posh Corps”, there are no volunteers with absolutely no access to resources, and we all have what we need to live.

3. “Why?”

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others — Audrey Hepburn

In May of 2017 I went to Tanzania as a part of a study abroad program at Purdue lead by an inspiring woman, Jill. While in Tanzania our group taught in rural schools, completed service projects, and, of course, went on a safari. When I tell people about Tanzania they are almost always drawn to the safari, but for me that wasn’t the best part of my trip. The most memorable experiences I had on that trip were the moments I shared with the local people teaching and learning with them and experiencing their culture

In the school year after my trip to Tanzania I had a few communications classes that challenged me to think about why I was pursuing what I was. It was in these moments of reflection on all that has shaped my life and who I am today that I saw how much I value relationships and found my heart is drawn towards teaching, service, and social and global change.

So, why? Probably the most frequent, and the most daunting question I got about Peace Corps. It’s been over three months in country and I’m still answering that question.

I believe some of the most rewarding experiences come from helping others, but it’s not just about the service. I wanted to serve and to help where I am need, yes. I wanted to promote world peace and friendship, yes. Most importantly, though, it’s about learning, and I want to learn. I don’t think that there is anything quite more important than being able to step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself into new cultures. There is so much to learn when you take a step back and feel with people; feel what they are feeling and experience what they are experiencing. It’s eye-opening and humbling. I have just as much to learn from Macedonia as I have to help.

And that’s why.


9 thoughts on “Here’s Why

  1. Irena

    This is a wonderful start to your blog! After are texting yesterday and now here it is! Thank you for sharing this. I can’t wait to share this with others so that they see your wonderful heart for others and the world. You are in just one more way making a difference by sharing your hopes and experience with us!


  2. Kevin B. Strickler

    Such a sweetheart. You remind me of your mother. Bell bottom pants, patchouli oil. Determined free spirit.
    Very few are doing what you are & that makes you even more determined. But to you it’s just a easy flow.
    Good job!


  3. Sue Gehlert

    Kendall, This is amazing! I love that you are choosing this experience to learn and serve others. (and I love your blog-can’t wait to hear more) Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!


  4. Jill Newton

    So proud of you and excited for you…they’re lucky to have you and you’re lucky to have them…it will fly by, so take it every moments (smell, breathe, look around a lot)…you are there, dreams come true!!! Sending so much love… XOXO


  5. So proud of you! You are an amazing young lady with a precious heart! So excited to hear more on your blog! We miss you here but are so proud of your fulfilling your dreams and your service to others! The Partain family loves you! ❤


  6. Eunice

    loved reading your blog so much-! So well written and I could relate to why you choose PC 😉
    so humbled to be a part of this journey with you ❤


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