Thursday, August 23, 2012

End of Service - back in the States!

Hi everyone!

 Well, my time in the Peace Corps has successfully come to an end. After two years living in different parts of Guatemala and working as a Municipal Development volunteer, I am now officially an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer). I flew back to the United States one week ago and am now in Atlanta, finishing up my final semester at Georgia State for my Master's in Public Administration, concentration Non-Profit Management. I plan to graduate this fall.

 My experience with the Peace Corps was really quite amazing. I had three primary projects that I got involved with during my service, the first being a series of workshops on project design and management that I taught to local community leaders. Second, I organized a coalition of public, private and non-profit actors to raise $13,000 in materials and supplies in the construction of a two-room schoolhouse made out of plastic bottles filled with trash. Finally, I directed four day-long workshops in Spanish and English on the "Eco-Brick" building method, teaching and then demonstrating the plastic bottle technique to groups of 20-40 participants. I feel very satisfied with my service and I very much appreciate the support that you extended to me over the past two years.

 As for the future, I will be looking for a job very soon. Upon graduation, it is likely that I will be looking for employment in or around Washington D.C. or North Carolina, preferably with an innovative non-profit focused on international development, community service or intercultural education. I have skills and experience pertaining to project design and management, event planning, volunteer coordination and fundraising, in addition to my Master's degree. Please keep me in mind if something comes up!

 Once again, thanks for all your support.



Saturday, February 4, 2012

Leaving the Boca Costa

Well, it’s been a long time coming (I’m talking about my this blog entry)

I think I last posted back in October, and I don’t know why I haven’t felt inclined to write anything. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.

A TON of stuff has happened, though – I moved out of El Tumbador yesterday, not because I was personally in danger but because of some broad security concerns at the national level. Peace Corps Washington had to make some hard decisions and rather than close PC-Guatemala they’re cutting the program in half, from +/- 200 volunteers to around 100. At the same time, they’re relocating all remaining volunteers to the Central Western Highlands of Totonicapan, Quetzaltenango, Quiche, Solola and Chimaltenango. Here’s a map.

I’m getting moved to Quiche.

(it’s pronounced kee-CHAY, not “keeche” like the egg tart lol)

My support network is getting turned upside down. A bunch of my friends have chosen to leave, as the administration realized they were complicating people’s lives by requiring site changes and so they offered everyone the opportunity to end their service honorably (rather than take the negatively connotated “early termination” label that you’d normally get if you left before 27 months). So people are going home.

All this doesn’t even touch the fact that I’m now going to spend my last 6 months of service getting used to new work counterparts, a new culture and a new community. I’m moving to a remote valley that’s dusty in the summer months, located at the end of a dirt road that becomes almost impassable in the rainy season. There’ll be no more of the coastal tropics, the steep foothills and volcanoes out my bedroom window, with every inch covered with lush coffee plantations. I’ll miss Tumbador but it’s a moot point – I figure that you have to put your own service and comfort in perspective.

In the meantime, I’m sitting in a cushy hotel in Xela waiting to share a flete (chartered truck or vehicle) with a future sitemate out to our new home. We’ll probably leave on Tuesday morning, which is fine with me because having cable TV, tasty meals, hot water and nice comfy room free of charge is a pretty good deal. Until then, I’m doing random stuff with my newfound free time… catching up on my blog ☺ Maybe I’ll try and make this a habit again….

p.s. did you see that word back there? Sitemates? That part ALONE will be crazy; in El Tumbador the nearest volunteer was an hour away but now I’ll have three or possibly four other volunteers living with me in the same town…..