8th February

‘There are men in the world who derive as stern exaltation from proximity to disaster and ruin, as others from success.’

Winston Churchill

‘All ambitions are lawful except those which climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind.’

Joseph Conrad – A Personal Record

Why does anyone become a Peace Corps volunteer? You can spit out the platitudes – to help others, to do some good, to give something back, to promote understanding of other cultures – but they dribble away as credible motivations for committing yourself for two years.

Adventure and career is what it really boils down to. Is it immoral to be thus motivated? Is it pointless? Is my ambition in my mind’s eye lawful? Am I using the destitution and misery found in a barely functioning state as a tainted stepping stone? Perhaps. But I’m not climbing over The Gambia. I’m not pushing it down, even if my work here does little to pull it up.

And I’m not deriving any exultation from my position.

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