I am getting close to the submission of my Peace Corps application and would like some advice on one of my essays.
Life in Guayaquil, Ecuador
Guayaquil, Ecuador was not the exotic destination I had once imagined. Each day on my walk to classes, young children begged for my money, while others stood barefoot on the asphalt trying to sell bottles of water. Robberies were common and occurred right outside the university. Sights like these brought heartache and fear and were an obvious contrast to my own upbringing. After spending most of my life in an upper-middle class, homogeneous community, this trip to Guayaquil opened my eyes to the world outside of my own. It made me realize how I was blessed to have grown up in Connecticut and made me question how many other places like this existed and how I could serve in these places that need it the most.
While living and studying in Guayaquil, I was also required to complete an internship at a local organization. As I first stepped into the gates of The Damien House, a residential hospital that provides care to people with leprosy, I was shocked and slightly uncomfortable with that I saw. These people had limbs deformed by disease, ulcers on their bodies, and noses that had begun to collapse. I saw this little world, so different from my own; a world that had welcomed me with smiling faces and warm spirits.
The biggest challenge I faced was my confidence. I perceived the whole environment to be radically different from my own life and all I had known up until this point. I struggled with my confidence in whether or not my work would be meaningful, to both myself and to those around me. I questioned what I, a college student from an advantaged background, could offer these people. I did not know how I would be able to integrate myself into this organization and truly reach out and make a difference.
As the program came to a close, I knew that I was not the one who had made a difference. These people who had been rejected all their lives had opened their arms and hearts to me. They showed me that the beauty of the world lies inside the people and places in a way I had never imagined. They showed me a loving, open spirit despite their circumstances. I would have never encountered these people had I not taken a step out of my comfort zone.
My experiences in Guayaquil are those I will take with me in my Peace Corps service. I have learned to open my mind and my heart to those the rest of the world has turned their back on. In addition, I stepped out of my comfort zone and embraced the people and cultures different from my own. I realized that with this brings vulnerability and only through that can I begin to grow and understand myself and my place in this world.