Most of the Peace Corps Volunteers in our Moldova 31 group are younger than our two sons. We weren’t sure before we came here how we would feel about this. As we now approach the end of our service, we’ve learned the answer: We’ve treasured it.
To be sure, we’ve formed especially close friendships with some of our fellow older volunteers, a group of whom we traveled with last year (above). We met one of them, Jim, left, before we even left home since he lived near us in North Carolina. Champa became close friends with a fellow teaching volunteer who ended up returning early to help take care of her first grandchild. We expect to remain in touch with them and several other older volunteer friends after we move home in July.
But we’ve also made friends with younger volunteers. One was Haley, right, a member of my community organizing group. She is an aspiring journalist who will start graduate studies next fall. She and I spent many happy hours discussing writing and other topics. I can’t wait to see what she does with her life.
One of Champa’s best friends here is Beth, left, a young teacher from upstate New York with whom she chats regularly on the phone. She’s such an admirable young woman and we’re looking forward to following her life, too.
I’ve helped several younger colleagues here with their resumes, grad school applications and job search strategies, sharing my experience as someone who has hired lots of people. I also helped some of them share their experiences through Peace Corps Stories, Super Moldovans and other communications projects.
But they’ve helped me, too, and I’ve been inspired by their enthusiasm and dedication. Ingrid showed me through her daily example how to slow down and appreciate what she playfully calls our “fellow humans.” Katie exudes a gentle professionalism. Danny is so knowledgeable about the Soviet legacy here. Samantha and Alexandra have worked hard to help Moldovan young women become entrepreneurs. (I could name many other examples and apologize for not including more.)
As Champa and I get ready to return home, we are thinking how we will incorporate the lessons of our Peace Corps experience into our American lives. One thing I’ve learned is that as much as I love my older friends back home and can’t wait to get back together with them, I will be looking to spend time with younger friends, too. My life is richer and much more interesting for having them around me.