A Commitment to Service

by Carrie Shoultz

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One of the final acts of pre-service training was to present a commitment to service. We were told we could present it in any manner we chose – poems, letters, songs etc. I am not the most creative person; actually I’ve never had an original thought in my life. I didn’t know if I wanted to just give a monologue nor did I completely know what I wanted to talk about. As it stands, I am pretty comfortable with a camera, and I even brought a mini photo printer so I could add pictures in my diary. I printed up ten photos I felt represented my reasons to serve; they include my commitment to myself, to my community, and to my fellow volunteers.

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My host mom represents the importance of being open to new experiences. She welcomed me to her home and has embraced me as her own. She was excited for the opportunity to learn new things from a complete stranger. I will follow her example.

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My neighbors, Juan Andres and Maria Magdalena, remind me of the importance of friendship. I commit to being a friend to Colombians.

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James teaches me to relish the moment and the people around you while they are there. Those moments may be fleeting, but they can touch your heart. I will follow his lead and try to slow down and enjoy the people around me. I know how big a regret missing out on relationships can be.

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Feliz reminds me that I am able to make an impact even if it seems small to me. When I found him he was so tiny, covered in fleas, and so thin you could see his bones. My host mom and I brought him to the home, bathed and fed him – and now he’s strong and healthy and has a fighting chance at life (I know he has fight because I have the scars to show it!) I will try not to underestimate the impact I can make on another life.

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My fellow Peace Corps volunteers remind me that service is a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well. I commit to being a support and a friend to any PCV that needs one, even if it’s just for an hour.

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The locked emergency exit reminds me that at some point, we all may want to quit. I commit to being a support for any PCV that is experiencing doubts about their service, even if it’s just to slow down the decision and ensure it’s the right one for you.

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I will use this picture of Monica until I die. It reminds me that sometimes things DO turn out as expected and it’s okay to hope for that, because it feels so good when it does. I will manage my expectations, but continue to allow myself to be optimistic about the outcome.

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This little girl is a student at the primary school in Villa Rosa. For me, she represents the potential of a country; she’s worth fighting for. During my service, I will remember that I am one part of a program that is fighting for her, and I will try to remember my impact on her and on future volunteers.

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This little guy reminds me that life is full of little miracles and it’s important to take time to enjoy them. A small bird nibbling on your finger can be thrilling if you allow it to be. During my service, I will try to enjoy the small things in life.

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Finally, this photo reminds me that it doesn’t take long to love another human, but it takes work to maintain the relationship. During my service, I will not take for granted the deep and lasting impact that Colombian people can have on me. I will take time to cultivate the relationships that develop from that love.

Bonus: I also commit to taking photos as much and as often as I can, and I commit to not posting the really horrible photos (unless they are funny).

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