This is the inaugural blog post of my Peace Corps service, and I figured it would be favorable for my friends, family, and future Peace Corps Volunteers if I explained to all of you why I’ve decided to make such a large commitment:
To those of you who know me, you know that I’m somewhat exuberant and always scoping
out a new adventure. Since I was a geeky little gal, I always yearned for a life outside of the small Idaho town where I grew up. To put it into perspective, I have lived in the same house my entire life; LITERALLY my entire life. There are photographs of a newborn Abbie coming home to the exact house where I now sit and write this blog post. For eighteen years of my life (that’s 6,570 days), I slept in the same bedroom. For my college years, I have moved myself into the basement, because I’m a cliché, and because my parents are ever-so willing to host me. Nonetheless, I have watched the same sun rise and set for roughly 7,400 days, and I’m ready for a new horizon. I’m eager for each day to be unpredictable, beautiful, and new.
Why Peace Corps?
When I was fourteen, I won an essay contest with National Geographic. I was granted an all-expense-paid trip to Australia and was accompanied by some seriously inspiring NatGeo staff. While I’m still friends with the vast majority of these staff members today, one of them has continued to chat with me on a regular basis: Her name is Sarah Erdman, and she was a PCV in Côte d’Ivoire in the nineties. We often talk about school, politics, and traveling–especially when it comes to the Peace Corps. For years now, we have spoken of her Peace Corps experience, and of the lasting impression it left on her. In fact, she wrote a terrific memoir that encapsulates every moving moment of her time in Africa. Needless to say, it inspired me to pursue the Peace Corps even more.
For those of you who don’t know what my future plans are, I’ve always been deeply passionate about providing adequate, affordable healthcare to those who need it, and in my freshman year of college, I decided I wanted to be a primary care physician. In the summer of 2014, I was accepted into the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at the University of Washington (UW), where I was further introduced to the world of primary care. I discovered immense healthcare disparities amongst numerous populations, especially minorities and LGBTQ communities, and was profoundly disturbed by this knowledge. Toward the end of my short six weeks at UW, I had a moment of clarity: If I truly desire an educated, healthy world, I have to venture into communities far different than my own to promote positive change.
As I inch closer to the end of my college career, I realize that while I do want to be a physician, I’m still just a kid. While I do pride myself in my knowledge of current and global events, I haven’t lived anywhere other than Idaho. One can know everything there is to know about a culture, but without immersing oneself in that culture, one is essentially clueless. With that being said, I decided to take the plunge and apply for the Peace Corps not even one week ago. It was only a small fraction of the application, but in the past week, I have submitted a ridiculously detailed resumé, answered a series of questions about my education, language skills, and crime history. I even spent a significant amount of time answering questions about my health history and took a “soft skills questionnaire.” The questionnaire required that I place approximately forty different terms in two different boxes labeled “important” or “unimportant.” It was unbelievably difficult. There were sixty terms to choose from, and each term was actually quite valuable. I wanted to choose all of them! Hopefully I picked the right ones, if you know what I mean. Hehehe.
In summation of this inaugural post, I want to remind you that I just submitted my application a day ago, and I still have to be invited, interviewed, medically cleared, etc. The road to another land is rather far from my viewpoint, but I’m eager to see where it ends.