“The time for me in the Peace Corps was easily the most formative experience I’ve had in my life.”

Some mornings seem to rise to near perfection. This morning is one of them. I am on the deck with the dogs. They are lying down in the cool air. A strong breeze is blowing. The branches are whipping back and forth. The oak leaves are rustling. Falling acorns are hitting the deck. Joni Mitchell is providing the soundtrack. I’ve already had my coffee and read the newspaper. My plans for the day are to finish the deck plantings, sweep my outside shower and put up a few more deck decorations. We might get rain, might being the key word.

Miss Nala is continuing her nefarious ways. Yesterday she stole some folded cardboard from the recycle bin and my deck chair pillow. I was only gone a few minutes into the house. When back on the deck, I immediately noticed the missing pillow. I checked the yard and could see Nala running with her prize in her mouth. I didn’t chase her. I stood and watched. I did try to grab it when she got close to me, but I failed each time. Finally I threw a rock which distracted her, and I retrieved my pillow, a new pillow, a filthy new pillow. I washed it and left it to dry. I’m using it again. When I went into the house a bit ago, I took the pillow with me.

I can occasionally hear planes overhead. I wonder where they’re going. When we left the United States for Ghana, we left from Philadelphia. We flew over the cape. It was an unexpected good-bye.

I have a picture of the inside of the bus taking us to the airport. I didn’t yet know most of the people in that picture, but we were to spend three months training together and two years living in Ghana, plenty of time to get know each other. Now, when I look at that picture, I can remember many of them. Standing in the back is Kalman. He will be the victim along with his Ghanaian passenger of a motorcycle accident. Sitting close to me is Emma. She will be assigned with me to the same school. We will never become friends. She will leave after the first year to maybe a different school or even home. She didn’t tell me she was leaving. I never saw Emma again. Roger and Dale are in seats near each other. They will be roommates in Navrongo, a town north of Bolga. They used to come visit so I could cut their hair. They were good guys, nice guys, perfectly matched. I don’t remember the names of the other passengers, but I have what we call the mug book which is filled with pictures of the whole training group. Underneath each picture is a snippet of information about each of us. Bill, Peg and I use the mug book to put faces to names. It is invaluable, even precious.

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2 Comments on ““The time for me in the Peace Corps was easily the most formative experience I’ve had in my life.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Tonight I had a change of pace and I watched the movie, “2001 A Space Odyssey”. I was watching a series on YouTube about how Stanley Kubrick made the film. I hadn’t seen it since the 1960s. If I can find his previous film, Dr. Strangelove, I will watch it also. It’s one of my favorite films.

    You are very fortunate to have served in the Peace Corps and I would bet that you left a formative experience on your students. I for one want to thank you for your service in the Peace Corps.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      I don’t remember the last time I saw 2001. It has to be many years ago. What comes to mind are the monkeys and the bones and the quick transition to the ship. Of course, you can’t forget Hal and his fading voice as he dies.

      The Peace Corps was the most amazing experience. Ghana became home. I have always felt privileged for having been chosen to serve.

      I appreciate the thanks for my service. I seldom hear that.


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