Recently on his blog, a fellow Ukraine RPCV, Danny, asked himself the following question: “What might my life be like, if I hadn’t gone off to Ukraine with the Peace Corps?”
Like Danny, I’ve often thought about this question. I can certainly say what my life wouldn’t have been like if I hadn’t joined the Peace Corps:
- F and I wouldn’t have gotten together; circumstances and location put us in a fortunate position. Had I remained in the States, probably nothing would have transpired.
- Following that previous point, I wouldn’t be in London. F and I decided together that London would be a good place to live/study, as it offers opportunities for both of us to pursue our interests/specialties. If we hadn’t gotten together, I might have extended my service in Ukraine to the end of the school year (spring 2013) and then returned home to the States to start grad school there. Instead, here I am embarking upon an MA degree in London!
- I may not have done a CELTA; part of the reason I decided to do one was to be productive in London while waiting for grad school to start. I had generally thought about doing some kind of TEFL certification after Peace Corps, but who knows if it would’ve happened if I hadn’t moved to London.
So what would I have done, if I hadn’t joined the Peace Corps? Here’s my best guess:
- I would probably have taken a year off to work, likely in Rochester while living with my parents. During that time, I would probably have studied for and taken the GREs, then started a PhD program in the U.S., on the straight and narrow path to academia.
But now, starting my MA after three years out of school, I’m not sure if I’ll end up in academia or not. And I’m okay with not knowing — if nothing else, the Peace Corps certainly taught me flexibility and openness to change!
It’s amazing how the decisions we make affect the rest of our lives. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Dickens’ Great Expectations:
Imagine one selected day struck out of [your life], and think how different its course would have been. …think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.
Perhaps my “first link” was the decision to join the Peace Corps in Ukraine…I’m certainly glad of my chain formed thus far and look forward to how it will continue to be shaped.