A universal bond across cultures is the love of home. When new Peace Corps Volunteers leave for service abroad, their bonds with family and friends tug at them. On the brink of an adventure, they wonder what lies ahead. Where will they live? Will they be up to the challenge? Who will they reach out to in times of need or loneliness? They arrive in their new countries as strangers, often dependent on their hosts in the community for sustenance and support. During training in many countries, the newcomers live with families and are “adopted” as daughters and sons. As a gesture of welcome and friendship, Volunteers often receive invitations to peoples’ homes to visit or share a meal.
Over time, Volunteers and the people in the communities they serve come to view each other as not so different from each other. When this happens, Volunteers begin to feel “at home” and discover they have a home away from home, often sharing the hopes, dreams and fears of their adopted families. When their service comes to an end, the emotional bonds they have formed with their host family and friends again make it hard to leave. The cycle comes full circle.
Many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers stay in contact with family and friends from their Peace Corps country. Some are able to return the favor of making someone feel “at home” by offering hospitality when they meet other people from their country of service or from other nations. The bonds formed during Peace Corps Service and the hospitality it engenders give many of us real hope for world peace.
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