Rushville Republican


June 7, 2007

Peace Corps volunteer returns home to share his experiences

I traveled back to the good ol’ USA from Peace Corps Uganda in April for a three-week furlough. I had qualified for the 111th Boston Marathon several months back while I was still in the U.S. and I flew back home to run it. I had to run it. To run the Boston you have to have run another marathon in a specific time in order to qualify. I had only qualified by 10 seconds – 26.2 miles of running and it came down to the last 10 seconds - so I figured that I had better run the Boston this time; there may never be another.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect after coming back from being in Africa for over a year. I think I expected some deep-seeded change to have taken place inside of me. I expected to be looking at the world through a different shade of lenses. I expected to be radically changed.

I guess the first thing that did strike me was how much stuff there is for us to buy and consume. When I arrived I was perusing around the airport spellbound at all the different lines of perfume, CDs, knickknacks and food choices there were. Entering back into this commercialized world served as a quick reminder as to how we are molded and shaped, many times unknowingly, by the ads for things we’re told that we need. We can personalize, customize, and individualize almost anything we buy too, "for just a few dollars more…" Coming from a third world country where a few pennies can mean the difference between getting necessary medicine to save a life, it didn’t impress me all that much. In fact it made me a little sad.

I also realized how things hadn’t changed much since I was gone. I saw a few new buildings that had been built. A few had been abandoned and ‘For Lease’ signs were hanging in the windows. Rushville hadn’t changed except for the new CVS and the talk of a new Wal-Mart. In many ways that was a comfort. After a day or so it began to even feel like my year in Uganda was more like a distant dream than an actual experience. I just felt so far removed from where I had come from.

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