A few years ago, my wife, Champa, and I left our conventional American lives in Durham, N.C., at the age of 62 to travel and then serve as Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova, a small former Soviet state between Ukraine and Romania. We’d had many blessings in our lives and wanted to give back and challenge ourselves. Our health was good, our parents were gone and our two adult sons were doing well. It was the right time to make a change.
Some of our friends were shocked but joining the Peace Corps in our sixties was less exotic than they imagined. Our Peace Corps group included older volunteers from Harlem to California, who had worked previously as a real estate agent, a university professor, an attorney, a city manager, a small business owner and in other professions. They were single, married, gay, straight and of diverse ethnicities.
Serving in our sixties was challenging. We found it harder than before to learn a new language. We sweated in overstuffed minibuses in the summer and slipped on sheets of ice in the winter. We had no car, no air conditioning and a long list of Peace Corps rules and regulations to contend with.
Yet we are so glad we did it.