Volunteers in their second year of service, in Cameroon, seem to have this change in mentality after Mid-Service Conference. We all start to relax a bit and think about the future. A lot of us choose to live life a little differently than in our first year. We buy internet keys to be able to communicate in the comfort of our homes, we spend more money on outrageous food (like cheese, potato chips, and diet coke), we go out to more expensive restaurants, and we generally seem to enjoy life a little more. When volunteers are living the good life we call it Posh Corps.
I’ve been thinking about this lately. Why does this happen? I’ve come up with a few reasons. 1. You know your way around the block. 2. You’ve figured out who you’re going to work with. 3. Most likely, you’ve made the friends you’re going to make in-country. 4. You feel confident in your service and yourself.
After spending a year at your post there aren’t many more ways to integrate into your community. They either accept you or don’t. You have made the friends you are going to make, met the groups you are going to work with, and even figured out your work plan until the end of your service. Once you have a routine and have figured out how to live your life at your post, why not upgrade a little?
With a routine, friends, and work, it is much more difficult to bury yourself in your house watching old TV shows on your computer or surfing the internet. In year 1, I had to make an effort to leave my house and meet people. Sometimes having a computer was a crutch and I couldn’t let it go. In year one, there are enough reasons not to leave your house. Why add internet? Or good food, for that matter?
Now that we have responsibilities and commitments that force us out of the house, why not buy an internet key to skype and email with? If my neighbors don’t see me for a day or two, they start asking questions. I have meetings every day that I have to attend. If people don’t see me, they notice. I’m not just some random American they see every once in a while. I’m their volunteer, their teacher, their friend; so I can’t just disappear for a few days at a time.
It’s kind of nice to think that after a year of turbulence, I am in control of my life. It’s hard to feel out of control, out of your element, for such a long time. But now I, along with other year 2 volunteers, feel confident enough in my service that I know I can handle adding little pleasures into my life without feeling guilty or losing control again. And that’s a very comforting feeling. Welcome to Posh Corps.