I’m currently in the nomination stage of the very-long-and-drawn-out process of applying to the Peace Corps. Being a nominee sounds Big and Important until it dawns on you that all you really know is a vague set of generalities which when cobbled together in a 10-second sound bite make you seem ignorant and uninformed. Oh, I’m going to be helping farmers in South America! Sure, kid, that’s what they all think they’ll be doing.
My official nomination consists of only a scant few pieces of information:
1. My assignment: Agriculture economics.
2. My region: Latin America.
3. My departure month: September 2012.
I have no idea what the first one means. According to my recruiter, it has something to do with assisting farms and working in business. My brain shrewdly connected the dots and quickly proclaimed that I would be doing agribusiness consulting. Perhaps.
I thought I knew what the second one meant, at least. Latin America. Guatemala. Honduras. Panama. South of us but north of South America. Then it was pointed out to me a couple of months ago that in Peace Corps parlance, Latin America doesn’t just mean Central America, but any country south of the U.S. So now Peru and Paraguay and Ecuador were fair game. Shows how much I know.
I think — no, I HOPE — that this will become a major theme of this blog. One of the main reasons why I wanted to join the Peace Corps is because I want to expose to myself just how ignorant I am of anything that falls outside the narrow scope of my work, my fields of academic study, my hobbies, interests, pop culture outlets, societal parameters. I want to be shown, time and time again, how much I don’t know. And perhaps in the process of learning these things I don’t know, I’ll start to learn more about myself along the way.