I usually try to make these blogs relatively positive. But today I’m annoyed. They say that Peace Corps is the “hardest job you’ll ever love,” and it’s held true. Some days all of this is just hard. And what makes it the most infuriating is when other Peace Corps volunteers make it harder. Specifically when PCVs marry Host Country Nationals.
Last week there was a naming ceremony for a new baby in the village 1K away. The father is a PCV who finished his service, married a girl who hadn’t finished Grade 9, and is now living in that village. The entire situation is just unacceptable and the worst part is that this occurrence is more common than I thought.
People joke that Peace Corps’ unspoken “Fourth Goal” is to find a spouse during your PC service. I thought that was gross when I first got here and now I think it’s absolutely unethical. At school, our GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Club often discussed healthy and unhealthy relationships. Healthy relationships are built on trust, understanding, and equality. When a PCV married a Host Country National, none of those things are present. There will always be the divide that you are an American who came here for a mission to serve Gambians and now the lines are all blurred.
And of course you might think that someone else’s relationship is none of my business. You would be correct in a lot of instances (where I nevertheless still insert my two cents), but this is my business. When you join Peace Corps, you join a legacy of 55 years of international diplomacy. You join coworkers from all over the States, you join all the volunteers who came before you and all those that will come after.
People offer me wives everyday. Men ask female PCVs to be their wives every day. It’s a constant, infuriating culture that leaves some of our work ineffective. It’s a culture that we created. When I try to explain that I’m here for work and not to marry anyone, they just point out that the PCV down the road married someone. If they can do it, why won’t I?
By setting the precedent of marrying Host Country Nationals, taking them back to America or living with them here, you are negatively affecting the work of PCVs everywhere. You are negatively affecting Peace Corps as an organization and the people we are serving.