For about five minutes last fall, my daughter debated joining the Peace Corps. She started the whole process, the application and so forth, and got up to the final interview. Before you go on the final interview, they tell you what your placement will be. My daughter would be assigned Togo.

Togo is a sliver of a country in Africa, on the western portion of the continent, east of Ghana, west of Benin and south of Burkina Faso. A small portion of the country is on the Gulf of Guinea.

Geography lesson over.

My daughter decided not to join the Peace Corps because it was really not for her. Nothing against Togo, but this was not how she wanted to spend her gap years between college and law school.

But she agonized a bit about this decision…

Did not wanting to go to Togo mean that she was scared?

My daughter is not one to back away from an intellectual challenge- in fact- she relishes it. She does have fear, but she is not really afraid of most things…

But for some reason she felt like a quitter by not joining up…

I asked her:

Is joining the peace corp something you really want to do, or was it just a very pretty marketing brochure that caught your eye when you were trying to come up with something unique to do before you went to law school?

And she said that yes, the on campus recruitment was very seductive to someone in her position, who didn’t want to be a paralegal or join the company that she interned with over the summer. The peace corps promised experiences that she would never receive in another way. But no, in theory, she did not want to spend two years that far away from NYC.

Did that make her a wimp? Not wanting to do it because she wanted to be around her dog and cat?

We had a whole conversation about how it’s ok to NOT do something. Just because it sounded appealing doesn’t mean she had to jump in with both feet. She explored it, thought about it, and decided that NO, this wasn’t for her.

There’s nothing wrong with making a decision based on how you feel about a situation.

She wasn’t a bad person because she said that Togo was a no go…

Sometimes we get caught up in overthinking things- for attaching too many thoughts to one thing. While thinking about something is important, the listing of the pros and the cons…when it comes down to it, a con is a con if your mind says it is. No further explanation necessary…

The whole peace corps thing brought up a lot of other things…so look towards another Peace Corp blog in the next week or so…

63 thoughts on “Togo or not Togo

  1. I considered majoring in Peace Studies in college, which would have meant joining the Peace Corps after I graduated. After taking a couple classes, I decided to major in English. I think it’s great to explore paths and feel no guilt for changing directions. Great subject LA.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Guilt is powerful and can set us in directions that really aren’t right/practical/honest for who we are. I always sort of believe that if a big decision like that was meant to be then even if I decline on the first go round, it will come back in some form or another and then maybe that’s the time to listen 😉 I read above that she found her niche and has a plan now- perfect!

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  3. It is definitely good to weigh the facts. Years ago, the Peace Corps wanted to send me to a country in Africa with AIDS epidemic. It was a French speaking country and I said no. I chose South Korea and stayed 3 years teaching English as a Foreign Language. I found the opportunity, not through the Peace Corps but on my own. I do not regret my decision. Listen to your instincts.

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  4. We’ll have limits. Realizing the can’t do limits no matter what the reason is very important. Every person is different. What works for one doesn’t for another. I’d wonderful your daughter realized Togo wasn’t for her. Forcing yourself into something you do have a choice about is never a good thing. She made the best decision for her. I have friends that volunteer in the DR. The DR seems like a metropolis compared to Togo. They go for 3 months. Eastn and raise money then they go back. They go through an agency. I don’t know the name of it and haven’t seen her in year’s. I think it’s though a church. All those places are so dangerous now. This world is too crazy to be taking on missions in other parts of the world. Plenty of people need help in NYS.

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  5. You can tell your daughter that I’ve spent 63+ years away from NYC and I’m doing just fine. My view of the world may be different after spending so many years in the US military. I get somewhat bored by being around the same place for too long. I would have went for the experience and for the adventure; but, that’s me. What’s right for me may not be right for her. Time will tell.

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  6. I almost joined the military. Took the ASVAB and all that. Then said, nah, I’m not really doing this because I want to. I was influenced. Good for her for being willing to change her mind.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Remote areas could be tough to live, she not being a native. Some remote areas have no access drinkable water or electricity and the inly mean of transportation is a motorcycle or tricycle

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations to your daughter, it may seem like a small thing, but being able to step back and recognize that something is just not the right thing can be a real challenge. Throughout my life I’ve done a lot of things that seemed right, or that people told me were right, or that I thought might be right in some way. And while some of those things turned out to be fantastic learning experiences, others only served to be a source of regret: regret for the time lost, regret for the emotional toll taken, regret for just not listening more to my gut feelings. So go her! Sounds like she made the right choice for her and in doing so, is well on her way to developing an incredibly important life skill.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Two years is a huge commitment to something if you are not passionate about it. Good for her for being brave enough to say “No, this isn’t the right thing for me at this time.” Actually, the teaching “gig” will require a lot of the same personal characteristics and strengths. Teaching, especially inner city, is not for the weak.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m so proud of your daughter. She was able to slow down, listen to her inner voice, and reprioritize what her gap year will look like. She is the only one who knows what is right for her and she is wise enough to act on this knowledge. Bravo. Regardless of what she does, she will learn, and her experience will be efficacious. I’m still learning to trust my inner voice, to listen, and to act. Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Giving ourselves permission to say “no” without guilt is so hard, but also so important. Good for your daughter for finding the courage to do that, and for you for coaching her through it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Peace Corp is a truly noble effort that we have made over the years to try to help people better their lives. It is not for everybody. Your daughter has made enough commitments recently. This one may have just been a little too overwhelming. Frankly, it takes a lot of guts to admit that. She knows herself. You did a good job with her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But…I’m writing a post for Monday that I would love you to read and take part in discussion. I think you will have a viewpoint that will be good for the conversation

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Like a lot of decisions, things can look appealing when you’re talking in broad terms, and reality only hits when you get into the detail of the thing. I was born & brought up in India and Africa, so I experienced a very different daily life to that of my peers on the UK. What I share with fellow ex-pats is not only a different experience, but a very different mindset. Far better that your daughter was self-aware enough to make the decision ahead of time, rather than have to be bailed out later on.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. This may sound harsh, but I wouldn’t want to go any place where I have to take malaria pills. My colleagues daughter went to a third world country for a year, and came home with malaria as she had stopped taking the malaria pills due to side effects, and then the school she was working at was destroyed by territorial in-fighting. Your daughter is a smart woman with a bright future ahead of her – there will be many safer ways for her to contribute to solving the worlds problems if that is what she wishes.

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