I write a lot about my primary work of availing health service in the villages, which is very fulfilling and takes up the bulk of my time here, but there are a few small projects I’ve kept up throughout my Peace Corps service that I feel it’s time I finally pay homage to. These are things I’ve consistently been working on for 2 whole years and although they don’t really qualify as community health development or HIV prevention work, they contribute to Peace Corps’ unofficial Goal #4, which is that of transformation: personal growth and development. Now I’ll share with you how collecting coins, books, and medals has helped me work towards being more present, knowledgable, and integrated.
- Lost and Found Jar
I keep a jar on my fridge that holds all of the coins I have found on the ground over the last 2 years. Only coins I’ve found are allowed into this jar, and I never take any coins out. The jar is filled with coins valued at 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. The 1, 2 and 5 cent coins are no longer produced or in circulation in South Africa, which means these ones are super old! You may be asking yourself- “How is this contributing to personal development?” Well, my answer to that is this- when I’m walking somewhere, I take my time. I stroll around and pay greater attention to everything around me, which causes me to be more present in every moment. Who would’ve thought something so silly as picking up lost coins on the ground could influence presence and consciousness? This little project has led to me being hyperaware of my surroundings and seeing everything, even the littlest of things. I have yet to take my jar to the bank to cash it in, but when I do I’ll let you know how much ended up being in there!
Early in my service I told myself I wanted to read 27 books in my 27 months of Peace Corps. I’m happy to say that I have reached my goal, and thanks in large part to people who have sent me books! I couldn’t have done it without you! I really enjoy spiritual fiction and non-fiction, and also works involved in the topics of health and wellness. Thanks to my nagging volunteer friends and their obsessions, I did start dabbling in sci-fy/fantasy, and the infamous Grey series as well. Some books were just excuses to stay under my electric blanket through winter, others were slightly more impactful in my life but altogether I’d say I gained a great deal of perspective and developed my creativity and imagination further. See my reading list for a complete picture!
There’s a huge running culture here in Africa and the general welcoming nature of its people means it’s easy for an international runner like me to break into the local running scene. I hang my race bibs and medals in a corner in my bedroom and I love looking at it to reflect on my experiences here in South Africa. I look at this corner and think about the challenges I’ve faced, the joy I’ve felt and the relationships I’ve built all because I have a love for this crazy thing called distance running. I have developed an obsession over growing this collection and subsequently I’m constantly training and running races wherever I can in this huge country. Running is incredible release, comfort, solace, escape, presence, growth, influence, challenge, and the most insane mix of pain and pleasure. But I think most of all, for me at least, running provided a coping mechanism for the trials of Peace Corps service…of living and working in the developing world and all that comes with it.
Find opportunity for growth and experience in even the smallest of things. Thanks for taking the time to read about my small projects. 🙂