During our staging time in Washington D.C., one of our last activities was one in which we were all told to form a circle and face outward. We were then told not to look or turn around at the stickers that were being stuck on our backs. Then we were simply told to not talk and get into groups- Nothing more. Get into groups without talking and GO!
For quite a while there was confusion, frustration and chaos. But soon some started noticing similarities as to the number and color of stickers on people’s backs. So in a process of inclusion, exclusion, pushing pulling, moving, grabbing and hand waving an entire group of people organized themselves without uttering so much as a word.
The organizer of the activity went on to explain the importance of the activity and now, only a few days out I can see what that simple little game was trying to teach us.
Right now I feel like we all have stickers on our backs again. We are all heading out to live with complete strangers for three months. We have no idea who they are, what they look like, or what kind of house we’ll be staying in. Look in the eyes of any Peace Corps Trainee today and there’s the deer caught in the headlights look; the desperate stare of a man facing a double barreled shotgun. Fear. We were all carrying stickers on our back and had no idea what was going on or what was going to happen. But we were all going through it together. We only needed a look, a nervous smile to communicate that we felt each other’s fear.
One by one each of us got off the bus and waved goodbye to the others. We were like cattle slowly being separated from the herd. We had no idea what we were in for, only that we were all in it together.
I feel like in some ways that’s the only thing that’s gotten me through some of these days. That feeling of: If they can do it, I can do it! It’s knowing that I have no right to feel upset or angry about a situation because I’m not the only one going through it.
We’ll have these stickers on our backs for another 3 months, and probably even longer. But at least we’ll all be working through it together!