Ty Miranda, RPCV Group 127
It’s hard to sum up 77 days in a few paragraphs, just like it’s hard to sum up 27 months of Peace Corps work in a three-minute conversation. In many ways, my experience with Bike & Build was similar to Peace Corps. Bike & Build was extreme, crazy, amazing, emotionally draining, tiring, but most of all, an experience of a lifetime.
Bike & Build is an organization that organizes cross country and semi-cross country trips for young adults under the age of 28 to spread awareness and raise money for affordable housing. By biking 4,000 miles, I was creating ideal situations to talk with locals about the need for affordable housing and the importance of the work that many small nonprofits are doing locally.
My trip began in Jacksonville, Florida on May 12 and ended in Monterrey, California on July 26 with 35 fellow bikers from all over the United States. We biked through Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. I biked through Yosemite, Zion National Park, Death Valley, New Orleans, and the Grand Canyon. We also volunteered, for our “off” days, in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, New Orleans, Dallas, Durango, Las Vegas, and St. George. I had days where I felt great and biking 70 miles was a piece of cake and I had days where 50 miles was a complete uphill battle. Much like Peace Corps, every day was different and unpredictable.
I cannot emphasize how great my Bike & Build experience was to helping me acclimate back into the American society. After 27 months in the Peace Corps and 5 months in France before that, I really lost touch with American life and culture. But, by biking through small towns, sharing stories of triumph and struggle with people from all walks of life, I felt more connected to the American people than ever before. Certainly, I felt more ready to integrate back into American society.
I was scared to return home after service, I thought I was going to be alone and have extreme culture shock upon arrival. It turns out that after biking 77 days and 4,000 miles with young adults, I am back to my U.S. persona. I know what’s happening with Taylor Swift and what’s the new drink of choice (it’s straight bourbon btw). I understand how the election turned out the way it did and how we are trying to recover from a wave of hatred.
Now, I encourage PCVs to travel after service, don’t get me wrong. Go to India and eat naan from the back streets or go to Indonesia and scuba dive with the sun fish. But, I also recommend you to come back to the U.S. and learn how to love the mountains and the hiking and all the other things that I forgot America has to offer. Come back and experience what spring in D.C. is like or what a beautiful summer Colorado has. It’s okay to come back. Trust me.
Currently, I am working towards my Masters of Public Health degree in Global Health Policy at George Washington University. I have returned to Washington D.C., a city full of RPCVs and Bike & Build Alum, and I feel at home. I have too many requests for happy hours and for Sunday rides that I can’t keep up. See, it all works out.
For more information on Bike & Build, check out their website. Trip applications go out in the Fall, so don’t forget to sign up. Trips start in May, which is perfect timing for COS.