LaBrisa Williams / Contributor

Think of a mansion with 25 rooms and you own this mansion, but you only have access to ten of the rooms. The other rooms are locked and you don’t have a key. This is how I felt, like there was more I should and could be doing. Then, an opportunity presented itself to me. It was Feb. 6 when I received the email that changed my life. 

“Congratulations! You have been selected to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer, pending medical and legal
clearance. This letter is your formal invitation to serve as a Health & HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Volunteer:
Clinic and Health Team in Botswana departing July 21, 2017. By accepting this invitation, you are taking the next
step toward joining hundreds of thousands of Americans who have answered the call to service and made
sustainable change in communities around the world”.

I applied to the Peace Corps with little hope of getting accepted as they receive 17,000 applications on average yet only have 4,000 vacancies a year. Despite the insurmountable odds, I applied anyway. Now, sitting here in Botswana, Africa, I am glad I applied.

What is the Peace Corps?

The Peace Corps is a service organization run by the U.S. government for change makers to immerse themselves
in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our

The Peace Corps began in 1961 to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:
1. To help people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. To help promote a better understanding of American on the part of peoples served.
3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Why the Peace Corps? Why Botswana?

I didn’t exactly choose Botswana, I was willing to go anywhere as long as I was in the health sector. I didn’t know
anything about Botswana before I was under consideration to go there, but I wanted to explore. I decided to join the Peace Corps for many reasons. The primary reason is I was starting to become too comfortable. I loved my job, but I wanted something different. When I get comfortable I find myself not growing, not being challenged and not stretching past my comfort zones. Not accessing everything that is within my reach.

I’ve always had this desire to live in another country and experience other cultures aside from the one I’ve
always known. I studied abroad in Tanzania and I remember coming home and everyone had all these myths
and stereotypes about Africa. I found myself defending the entire continent of Africa because I was upset
because of people’s ignorance. One moment stands out in particular. I remember a friend saying they would
never visit Africa because of all the people starving there. I pulled out my phone and showed them picture after
picture, shared how their economy is growing and stories about the people I met. I want people to see and know that the world is not all what we see on TV. I want people to experience a piece of my experiences and allow it to transform their thoughts and perception of this entire continent known as Africa. Africa is NOT a country; it is a continent made up of 54 countries. I want to help uncover the truths behind common myths and stereotypes about Africa and the people who live there.

I want to learn more about public health and how countries outside the U.S. address public health issues. In
addition, I want to explore what it is I like about public health and if it is something I want a career in. I want to explore lots of possibilities some I’m not sure exist yet. I hope this experience will provide some insight as to what I want to do next in my career. I simply want to explore.

I am struggling balancing all of the emotions and the thoughts that are running through my head. Sadness, excitement, nervousness, anxiety, hopeful, and doubt have all found places in my head these past few weeks.

I am thrilled about the adventures and opportunities I’ll get to experience. Being able to live in a community and
build relationships with people excites me. Not being in a “rat race”, trying to compete for jobs and status excites me, changing my environment excites me.

I’m nervous about the bugs interrupting my sleep and bothering me, I’m nervous about the transition and the
moments that I’ll feel lonely and miss my family and friends back home. I’m nervous that I’ll fall in love with the
people and the country and not want to return home. I’m nervous that I’ll find myself during it all and become
unrecognizable to the people who used to be the closest to me.

I hope to gain lots of things, I’m sure of which will change when I touch down in Botswana. Lots of feelings, but
overall, I am excited for what is to come whatever that is. I’m anxious to travel, to gain a new level of open-
mindedness, to grow, to be challenged, to overcome, to embrace every minute, to have fun, to love harder than
I ever have before and to fall in love with myself - the real me.

I am super overwhelmed and sad to leave. Though I have no idea what this next season will bring, I have complete trust in God so I am not worried!


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July 24, 2017