Jessica Marcy served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali from 2003-2005. She currently works as a web reporter at Kaiser Health News, a non-profit news service committed to in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics.
“I think you’re going to be disappointed,” my mom said into the phone. “You might want to sit down.”
On the other side of the line, my mom held an invitation from the Peace Corps with my assignment. I waited anxiously to hear my fate for the next two years. “Mali and water sanitation,” she said, her tone suggesting no one would ever want to go to a place like that. “Are you disappointed?”
For the past couple of years, Peace Corps had seemed like an intriguing possibility, an opportunity to go anywhere in the world and be completely immersed in a foreign culture. For awhile, it was simply something that I wasn’t ready to commit to, but I now knew it was the time. Though I knew very little about Mali, it actually seemed like a pretty perfect place and, though I knew almost nothing about water sanitation, I knew it was a serious need and would provide me an opportunity to do meaningful work.