Journals and diaries offer space for reflection. For many Peace Corps volunteers, journals provided an unbiased place to flesh out one’s private thoughts. Whether written in frustration, excitement, or simply recording the mundane events of the day, journals and diaries promoted a safe opportunity to think and write about experiences in a country far from home.
For young, inexperienced volunteers, keeping a journal provided a way to process and cope with new surroundings. Journals also include reflections on new foods, community events, local culture, and the living and working conditions experienced abroad.
Journals also allow us to understand the routines, experiences with illness, and the developing relationships which occurred between volunteers and local citizens. Boge reflected on her first year as a Peace Corps volunteer in India–including the challenges she faced working with people very different from herself.
Most people who journal or keep a daily diary do so without considering the benefits it may yield to researchers in the future. Rather than document their daily activities for someone else to read, many authors record events for their own memories. Winifred Boge’s diary provides a window into the events of a volunteer’s day, in addition to discussing the complexities and challenges of serving in a foreign country with strangers. Journals and diaries provide insight into the individuals who served and the experiences in country that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.