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Job benefits like Malaria

It’s no surprise that graduates at all levels of education are having a difficult time finding suitable employment where they can truly use what we paid good money for. Yes, there are jobs to be had but who wants to take their costly diploma to a job where they can’t even make enough money to pay the minimum student loan payment? Certainly not myself or anyone I know. If you’re like me, you have parents willing to let you move back home until you manage to get a career off the ground or start another journey into higher education. However, not everyone is as fortunate as myself…or willing to live in their childhood bedroom again and those people (whether justified or not) are going to extreme lengths to live as a “mature, sophisticated adult”.  One such example is one of my best friends, Katie who just recently moved to Africa to volunteer for the Peace Corps for 27 months. As you all don’t know Katie, let me paint this picture before we go any further. Katie is born and raised in New Jersey with parents that work in NYC, was a member of my sorority and is an all around city girl. Because Katie was unable to find employment beyond a day care and bank (fine places to work but not with a comparative studies degree from an out of state school, no less) so she enlisted in the Peace Corps to teach gender studies to village children.  While the rest of us will continue to send out resumes and apply to various graduate schools, Katie will have to bleach her water before drinking, may or may not have electricity and will have to remember to take her daily malaria pills. Which is worse, being underemployed or living like a pilgrim? Apparently for Katie the former was a fate she was destined not to meet.
Before our dear friend departed to the straw huts and desert of Africa, a group of us spent the weekend in New York City shopping and treating Katie to one of her last typical outings for the next 2+ years. From the time Katie told me her plans via text message (how ironic) I constantly bombarded her with questions on how she would pack, live and most importantly stay safe so far from home. Most of her answers made me laugh, some -ok all- made me cringe and some were just so absurd I thought ‘this must be a joke’.  If the idea of a grand adventure sounds appealing, I suggest you read a few of my favorite questions and answers below. Of course, I’ll be emailing a copy of this letter to Katie as I don’t know her hut address and I want her to read this before Christmas.
Q: Katie, you said that 1 in 4 people will have electricity. What about plumbing? How will you use the bathroom?
A: Yep, a hole in the ground.
Q: I’ll email you so know what’s going on. When can you check your email?
A:  Depending on where I’m placed, the village will be anywhere between 2 and 6 hours away on overcrowded buses on dirt roads. If they have internet, I’ll check then.
Q: Do they pay you?
A: Yes, $14 a week. I can buy food with that but I might learn to garden. Maybe I’ll have a hot plate. Who knows!
Q: Be careful, aren’t there dangerous animals?
A: Not sure, but people say they keep monkeys as pets.

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