As we begin April, it’s time to bring up another topic in our #RPCVLessonsLeared series, and it’s a big issue: alcohol. April is alcohol awareness month.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Thailand, alcohol was a part of the foundation of my “coping” techniques (read more about my ongoing journey of reconciliation of service in a former post “Confront the Uncomfortable”). I used alcohol to celebrate wins like passing a language test in PST, bonding with friends, and at every milestone of service like mid-service and COS.
At the same time, I used alcohol to cope with the uncomfortable. I used it when I was missing my family, I used it when I felt lonely at site, I used it to bond with my community to reduce the anxiety of language barriers, and I used it to celebrate during weekends out of site.
The irony here is as a youth development volunteer, I participated in programs educating youth about the dangers of alcohol. And, I have to admit that I judged individuals living in my community who I saw struggle with alcohol use. Yet, I never took a step back to evaluate my relationship with alcohol during my service.
There’s a lot of dialogue in the United States about our alcohol interaction, especially with our elevated use during the pandemic. I urge RPCVs to wrestle with this dynamic with me, and think about how we grapple with Peace Corps Volunteers’ considerably unhealthy relationship with alcohol and our propensity to “cope” during service.
Have thoughts? Join the conversation using #RPCVLessonLearned