By: Mike Redmond
Ok, so let’s discuss success and failure from the perspective of a Peace Corps Volunteer. First of all, I’m a big believer that success is not a “black and white” definition – and neither is failure for that matter. Success can mean so many things to so many different people. I think the word success can too easily get tied up with two factors: achievement and money. When people back home ask me if my service has been successful so far, they mainly want to know what I have achieved, what my numbers were for this and how many people did this, and of course the next question always has to do with how much money I made, or how much money I got for something.
I have had many, many wonderful days with a variety of huge successes during the one year that I have been in my village. A lot of what I consider as big successes are related to work and can vary a lot. It can be starting a big health project that took months of preparation in order to kickoff, simply convincing a lot people to come to a meeting, or seeing that people are interested in what I’m saying and want to learn more about their health. Of course, what may be the most common definition of successful work would be finishing a big project in which a lot of people learned new things, and then changed something about their life.
However, these types of successes are almost a rare occurrence, at least for me, as a PCV. I have a lot more successes related to my own lifestyle and daily routines. Being able to find food at times can be a HUGE success for me, especially on Sundays when everyone is at church and the town is basically empty. Learning Pidgin and some of the local dialects has been a very huge success as it has helped tremendously with being able to communicate with the locals. I feel that I have had a successful service in my village, not just because of my work, but because I have been able to make friends and have happy times in Nguti.
Alright, so now on to the Silver Lining. I know this might sound a little unorthodox coming from a Health PCV but my Silver Lining is beer. When things get tough, and I’m feeling a bit low, what actually helps me get through it is a nice cold, frothy, beer – although I can’t really get a cold beer until night time. Now, I don’t condone drinking in excess, but one cold beer isn’t a bad thing when stress levels are high. I also like to work out when I’m feeling the effects of work or personal stress. I do not mix the two, though. Drinking and exercise is not a good thing!
So, in conclusion, success can mean a lot of different things – from doing projects and helping people, to simply finding something to eat and having a conversation with someone.