The last day of my Peace Corps training, I entered the main hallway of the high school where I had spent the past three months. Each day, Craig Storti, an RPCV, and the Director of our training in Morocco, had posted an inspirational quote. As I prepared to set off on an overnight bus to the southern town of Taroudant, I stood before the corkboard, pondering the last bit of advice that I would receive before my journey:
“Always remember, no-one is going to look out for you out there, except for Jiminy Cricket. You can be as good a Volunteer or as bad a Volunteer as you want. And chances are, after two years, the way that you feel about your Peace Corps service will be the way that you feel about yourself.”
Words, like an inner symphony, that still resonate with me today. This week, I began research for my next book, which will focus on self-directed personal wellness. The premise of the book is that we often look outside of ourselves for health and wellness advice, when so much of our healing and well-being comes from within.
I am inviting all the readers of our RPCV community to be part of the initial research process by offering a link to a short survey on personal wellness. The average time commitment to complete the survey is no more than 5 minutes. You can find the survey here:
Craig Storti, who is also an RPCV writer, was an avid meditator when I met him. He had a kind and centered demeanor that needed no explanation. He was simply balanced. He was also funny, and from the first evening of training, we became close colleagues. Perhaps he saw something in me that I had yet to see in myself.
Two decades after I returned from Morocco, I began practicing yoga, and some years later, I sat on my own meditation cushion. In 2016, I began a PhD program in Integral Health at the California Institute for Human Science, a research institute dedicated to the mind-body-spirit connection. At the nexus of subtle energy and ancient traditions, I explored the effects of poetry on the psycho-emotional health of individuals, resulting in a statistical significance in the relaxation response after a 15-minute guided listening exercise with poetry. My new book will share these and other findings, while also exploring new methods and techniques to foster one’s own healing and well-being.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 84-87) is currently Senior Advisor, Global COVID-19 Response for CORE Group, a DC-based global health consortium working to advance the health of women, children and adolescents worldwide. She is a poet and writer who has worked as a humanitarian for many years, supporting refugees and communities affected by war and natural disasters around the globe. She is based in San Diego, CA.