To Newark, From Bulgaria: A Peace Corps Volunteer's Ongoing Journey

A post about my American vacation after three years in the Peace Corps.

Dear Newark,

I remember eight years ago after graduating from high school, promising myself that I would move out of this small city where describing it mundane was an understatement.

Well, moved out I did....to an even smaller place. 

I joined the Peace Corps and was assigned in Bulgaria, a country of about 8 million people. The wonders, the excitement, the unknown, the endless possibilities of growth and knowledge was what drew me to joining the Peace Corps. 

I was assigned in the small "city" of Bregovo, Bulgaria, in the northwest corner of the country. With a population of 1,500, Newark became a metropolis. 

I spent . Physical and emotional hardships were experienced.But despite these, I learned what family really meant, what vulnerability felt like, that teaching is one of the hardest yet most rewarding careers, how to appreciate the simple things in life. Personal growth was gargatuan, an experience that I would never ever regret. 

I am back in California, now at the end of my three-week American vacation.  It took three years in a village in a foreign country to recant my teenage regard to Newark's mundaness.

I appreciate so much more about this city. Huge grocery stores, a plethora of food choices, a lake to run around, a Starbucks that isn't seven hours away! A baseball game and a movie is a car ride away! In a way, it's sensory overload, but everything is seen and done with great appreciation. 

In my upcoming fourth year in the Peace Corps in Bulgaria, I will be in Veliko Turnovo the old capital of Bulgaria and a city twice as big as Newark.  Although I won't be in the village anymore, the knowledge that I gained there will always be with me, including humility. I teach my students to dream big, to reach for the moon and the stars, to think outside the box....but never forget where you came from. 

Довиждане за сега!

Rafael Aguilar

(Blogger's note: All the things I say in this blog is in no way affiliated to the views of The Peace Corps.....)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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