I have a week until departure. In that absurd brain of mine among the ridiculous amount of things I am currently trying to process (you know that whole leaving for 2 years, 80 pounds of luggage, saying goodbyes, handling paperwork and general life affairs), I am worried and nervous about my ability to be a good volunteer. So, I have taken this opportunity to think about my Peace Corps mantra. I have decided to take a copy of this and paste it in my (future) room so that I always remember these rules. I have to give credit to Kathy Gau and Lyle Jaffe and the following article http://www.socialedge.org/blogs/beyond-good-intentions/archive/2009/08/07/25-tips-for-peace-corps-volunteers for the inspiration in some (if not all) of my so called rules. I read the article and decided to take parts of their tips, paraphrase some, and transform them into my own little manifesto.
1. Be a positive role model in my personal life.
2. If you are feeling self-righteous or important, drop the ego. You are not God.
3. Development is painfully slow. Be patient with the process, appreciative of your own situation, and respectful of others situations'.
4. Never underestimate the power of teaching. It can be a wonderful gift. Embrace potential teaching moments in any kind of way. Do not be patronizing! Make it fun and memorable, focus and understand who you are working with, and do it as often as you can. This way you can hope that this will be a cyclical process where skills are shared among and throughout generations.
5. Be open and sincere.
6. Focus on building positive relationships with those around you.
7. Always maintain a positive attitude. People internalize your attitude quickly.
8. You are in El Salvador for a brief period, do not think this means you can judge.
9. Humans are humans. This is not ever about you versus them.
10. Do not focus on the larger goals of development, do your duty well, and treasure the little successes in your space and time. You are one step in a very long process.
11. Be humble. You are not always right. The way you do things is not always right. Listen to those around you and yield when necessary. Even if you are right(hypothetically), keep in mind that this is not about you. You will eventually leave El Salvador. So, listen and understand your community.
12. When you are frustrated, do some self-examination. Are you and or your mentality causing the problem?
13. Always look for ways that you need to grow and adapt, especially when you are feeling negatively. Be honest with yourself and be prepared to change. You will get much more out of this than you will actually give.
14. Expect the unexpected
15. Do not give up. If you need a moment, recognize it, and take it. Then move on. Take this as a chance to really know and learn about yourself in challenging, new situations.