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“Ultimately, I think a map project truly is a collaboration of geography, art, community and advocacy. I love letting kids from Birmingham know that another kid from Alabama was able to experience another culture.  In a small but significant way our group is continuing our Peace Corps service.”

The Greater Birmingham Returned Peace Corps Volunteers group (GBRPCV) has turned the World Map Project around on its head and completed 13 murals at home in Alabama to expose Americans to the rest of the world.

I'm just the tiniest bit terrified

And, of course, by “the tiniest bit” I mean completely. Entirely. Fully. So so very terrified. 

I applied for the Peace Corps in June, had my interview in July and got my nomination same day, did my medical review paperwork and got put on a short mental health deferral (long story) until June. 

There is so much uncertainty and I have told so many people about this and I’ve convinced myself that this is what I want. It is what I want actually, I’ve thought about it for upwards of 8 years and it really is what I want. And here I am, knowing this is right, knowing I’m right for it and still I’m waiting and I’m scared.

Peace Corps volunteer, RPCVs and applicants: Thoughts? Encouragement? Realism? Anything? Help a girl out.

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Check out these Returned Peace Corps Volunteers sharing their experiences in the DR!

And the countdown begins...

One month ago I received my invitation to serve in Benin.

One month from today, I will be in Benin.

Most volunteers received their invitations many months before I did and had the benefit of preparing in advance. I’m content with only having two months notice. In a way, I think it was probably less stressful. Reality is going to hit us all the last week or so, regardless of how much time we’ve had to prepare.

On Friday, I attended the Idaho Returned Peace Corps Volunteer’s Bon Voyage Picnic. I attended this event last year as an applicant; I don’t believe I had even received my nomination. It was a very fun, informative evening and I was glad to introduce myself as an invitee. The highlight of the evening was meeting Becky, the other Idahoan that will also be serving in Benin, as a rural community health volunteer no less! She is a very friendly and spirited person and she has already promised to take care of me since I am guaranteed to get violently ill multiple times over the next two years.  Becky and I spent the evening listening to RPCVs’ stories, in particular two women that served in Benin and Togo. Not only were their PC stories very helpful, but also learning about what they’ve done since their time in PC is very inspiring.

Tomorrow I am going to do some preparation shopping, including, but not limited to, buying a pack, maybe a rain jacket and a two year supply of underwear.

Last time I saw these two was with a bittersweet “see you later” as I prepared to fly home August 31. Words can’t describe how amazing it feels to laugh with these ladies in person again! Love my girls!! ❤️✌️#RPCVs #Soulsisters

donate.peacecorps.gov
Camp ALMA | Donate to Volunteer Projects | Peace Corps

To my lovely friends, family members, RPCVs, and anyone else out there: my region in Peru is putting on a girls’ empowerment camp and we’re in need of some financial assistance. If you’re feeling generous, any amount can help young girls gain new leadership skills and greater self esteem. (Really, really, there is no amount too small). 

Follow the link for more information and/or to donate, and of course I’m here to answer any questions.

stupid idea

You get this stupid idea that just because you’ve trained school teachers in a second language, just because you worked with the mayor, school district administrators, and community committee to open the first ever library in a town of 20,000 people, just because you learned an indigenous South American language to improve the outcomes of your work with the teachers and library, just because you scored in the 97th percentile on the GRE, just because you’ve never been arrested, used any hard drug, or been fired from a job, just because you graduated and from a good college, just because you have recommendations from successful, well-regarded, influential people, that someone would want to pay you more than minimum wage or give you a job that took advantage of more than the fact that you have a human body and are conscious.

Join the global celebration of Peace Corps service!

Peace Corps Week celebrates how Peace Corps Volunteers make a difference in host countries around the world and in the United States, commemorating the date President John F. Kennedy signed the executive order to establish the Peace Corps—March 1, 1961.

Don’t miss your chance to support world peace and friendship by furthering the Peace Corps Third Goal of helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans! Learn more @ www.peacecorps.gov/pcweek

On to the next adventure.

When last we left off in the saga of life after Peace Corps I was either about to or just finished up my summer job teaching an Agricultural Science class. It was great and amazing and the kids hugged me. 

Because of that job, one of the other teachers said she works as a teacher in an Agricultural High School…3 miles from my house… That I never knew existed. So they were hiring Teacher’s Aides they said. I went in about 2 weeks ago, this is how the interview went.

Them: So why do you want to work here

Me: Well I have a real passion ever since Nepal encouraging youth to be better than what is expected of them….(Blah blah blah, insert amazing answer here)

Them: Ok you’re hired.

*drops mic, walks out of interview*

When do interviews ever go like that! They are also paying me more due to my experience. This has led me to two thoughts:

A) The last 4 months have been the easiest I have ever acquired employment in my entire life

B) I have a hire able skill set!

I was retouching my resume for Grad School Applications and I was so happy that I’ve been working in the same field since 2011 or so. Rather than my older resume where I took this random job, and this other random job, and it seemed like there was no way to string them together. 

I think Peace Corps has definitely helped because if you can do that you can really do anything. Whether you love or hate the experience, it clearly seems to help me. 

So I am going to be a Teacher’s Aide (or kid wrangler as I think of it) in a few weeks. I have no idea what I am doing, but when do I ever?

On closing one chapter, and starting another

August 20, 2015

Two years ago today, I was at a hotel in Washington, DC, at Peace Corps staging.  I spent the day doing awkward icebreakers, meeting my fellow volunteers, and beginning to learn about all that Peace Corps entails. It was easily among the most uncomfortable days of my life.

Now, two years later, I’ve just returned from my Close of Service conference, meant to help volunteers reflect on their Peace Corps service and begin the personal and professional transition to life as a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, or RPCV. (While I will be staying in the DR until May, most volunteers in my group will be leaving in October).

The conference was the best I’ve been to in-country. It struck the perfect balance between looking towards the future and reflecting on the past, and the ample time to hang out with friends, delicious hotel food, and almost-hot showers were all icing on the cake!

I left the conference with three main take-aways:

1.  I love the volunteers with whom I have served.

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been the most social PCV, and rarely make it to big get-togethers or parties. However, over the past two years I have relied on this group of government-issued friends for support, inspiration, and so much more. They have become like family, and I will miss them immensely once they leave.

2. I’m looking forward to life post-Peace Corps.

 Part of our conference focused on preparing to transition to the working world in the States. All that talk of resumes and networking, combined with the fact that I recently started working on grad school applications, has me excited for what comes next.

3. But I’m not ready for Peace Corps to be over yet.  

I’d say most of the volunteers in my group have enjoyed their time here, but are ready for this chapter of their lives to come to a close. While I understand where they’re coming from, the COS conference made me thankful that I still have 9 months left on this island. No matter how challenging they may prove to be, for now I just can’t imagine being anywhere else.

My fellow health volunteers!

The whole gang!