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Archive for July, 2005

“Slim pickings”. That’s what our recruiter has told us today. We don’t qualify for anything leaving in June 2006, so that’s the reason for our non-nomination status. We are now in a life of waiting until late October, early November for nominations. Sigh. At the moment, between the both of us we qualify for more or less:

1. Urban Youth Development (William)
2. Community Development (William)
3. Environmental Education (William)
4. Secondary English Teaching/Basic Teacher Training (Adrianna)
5. University English Teaching (Adrianna)
6. Secondary English Teacher Training (Adrianna)

This is alot, so I’m not even going to try and play the guessing nomination game, mostly because Community Development can be anythying. We’ll just have to wait until October comes and see what we get. (sigh). Waiting is part of the fun!

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No Locus Standi

After not having heard from our recruiter for almost 4 weeks, we finally received an email from on Saturday. It’s intersting to see what sort of changes have happend since we were interviewed:

1. I’m no longer intrested in qualifying for Health Extension
2. I’m no longer vegetarian– but vegan
3. I really want to teach English in the Peace Corps
4. Will has a very good chance at Environmental Education
5. We are confident about leaving next June

Our recruiter however, suggested that we wait until November for the July, August and September programs become available. I told him, we’d be ok leaving June. He also suggested that I forget Health Extension and focus on TEFL, because that is what I have most experience with. TEFL and Enviromental Education make a good match apparently, so we’ll see we go with that. Will and I still think that we can be ready to go next June, despite the fact that we graduate next June. Some people may think we’re crazy–our recruiter is one of them.

We’ve made this decision in a completely logical manner: Firstly, we don’t have to find anyone to let our apartment to here, because we’re in contract and being that this is an apartment complex for students, there is never a shortage of people wanting to rent. Secondly, my family is coming to visit me here in Australia so that is one less expense for me, flying to Colombia is just so expensive and Will’s family all live in the same town. I will however have to make the trip to Miami to visit my dear mamá. Next, most of Will’s good friends have moved to California and my friends live all over the world and are constantly moving around, impossible to visit everyone. Lastly, we live in Australia, we moved here. We’re not on exchange or studying abroad and we’re not returning home after we graduate. We’re simply moving one. We gave away, stored or threw away anything we would no longer use or need. I even got rid of my raver pants, that was tough. We can pack things up here in a flash and move to in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Plus, anything you can get in America you can get here. We can spend every day of our last semester here stuffing faces with ‘good’ food and watching crap American movies.

Things are much to complicated to spend much time in America anyhow: no car insurance, no health insurance, no dental insurance, not enough time to get a job, not many friends and we have no car to get around in. Probably not much many either. Does that sound like much fun?

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Right now the current Peace Corps buzz at the Smith & Rodriguez residence is thinking about what we can do to make ourselves ready to prepare to accept an nomination leaving in June 2006. Will we have finals? Will we be able to choose units that finish up in early June? What is the earliest we can be ready to leave in June? I know I will have no finals, as I’m only doing a major tranaslation project which I can arrange to have turned in by June 2 (the last day of classes for Semester 1 2006), but Will has no idea when he will be done. He speculates that he can arrange to not have any finals if needed. We’re ready to change everything around to leave as early as July 14ish 2006. We can pack things up here and fly out of Australia on the 4th, arrive in America on the 4th or 5th (I hear you arrive in America the very same day you left, because you are travelling back in time and therefore recover the day that disappeared when flying to Australia), unpack, visit with family and whichever friends are left behind, buy stuff we’ll need, repack and head out– all in 10 days. Beat that!

When we moved to Australia we packed as if we would have moved away forever. We got rid of or stored everything we didn’t want/need/use anymore and packed our lives in our suitcases- 2 suitcases and a backpack. And we don’t even need all of the stuff we have here. Packing again will be easy. After having packed for so many 6- 15 month trips, you know how to pack and how not to. What to bring, what not to bring, what you will use and what you most likely won’t.

In response to our “Can we leave in June” flurry, this is where we may get to go based on unofficial sources with our first choice assignements of TEFL and Environmental Education:

Armenia
Mongolia
China
Bulgaria
Romania

(surely, there must be more options.)

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Notes from Peru

Will and I received an email yesterday from a friend serving in Peru. She left last September and pretty soon it will have been a year since she left the comforts of America for the unknown in village life in some remote corner of Peru. She met her current boyfriend during training and have been together since then. Recently they took a trip back to America for a few weeks together. She’s been back for about a month now and seems to be having some ‘readjustment’ issues. Getting used to life in her village again was tougher than she thought it would be because she missed America more than she thought she would. She is by no means a sheltered girl, she’s done her share of traveling and studying abroad, but living in a village with a host family in a country you’re never been to, eating food you’re not used too, having less hot showers than you’re used to are things anyone will have to get used to. Her boyfriend works at a site about an hour away so they don’t see eachother that often in-country. After having spent those few weeks in America seeing eachother everyday, it must be tough not seeing eachother as often as they’d like to.

So…Will and I have decided we are not going home to visit family or friends while we are serving. I think the longer we’re in-country, the better we’ll get to know the place. I’m really glad that we’re serving together. I don’t do well with long-distance relationships. I think every Peace Corps volunteer wishes at least once during their service that they had someone to share their experiences with right then and there.

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Maybe Not

So I did some thinking and maybe it wouldn’t be that perfect if we got to go to China. I read that volunteers work and live on university campuses. No matter what, adjusting to life in China will be something we’ve done before. Asia is so different from any region we’ve ever visited, my friend says that going to Asia changes you. Like living or studying in Europe for the first time changes you. I don’t necesarrily want to have shopping malls, internet, toilets and electricity ALL the time. I’m not looking for an easy assignment. There is no such thing as an easy assignment. I guess. Or else, it wouldn’t be called volunteering. I want to be challenged and I want to have to not worry about my high-maintanence hair and I want to have to travel big time to get to the nearest town. I want isolation. Or so I think. If I have William with me I can do anything. I may just be exaggerating here, but definately not romanticising about what things will be like come next year. I want to teach English, but really, if you live out in the middle of nowhere, will learning English really be at the top of your list as something to learn to get ahead in life? I don’t know. I guess I’m just looking for something different and challenging. I guess living in Bulgaria will be very different and challenging because A. I don’t speak Bulgarian and B. I have no idea what life is like in Eastern Europe. I have a friend named Viktor from Bulgaria whom I met while I was living in Spain and he’s one of the coolest kids I’ve ever met. I doubt Bulgarian will be like him, he lives in Montreal now.

I’m kind of not wanting to go to Latin America anymore, just because our recruiter said that the language training you recieve during training is so intense that if you do things the way you’re meant to, you come out at intermediate level. Spending hours a day for months just devoting myself to learning a language is something I’ve always wanted to do. There is a chance that if we did go to Latin America we’d have to learn some sort of indigenous language and that’s just no good for my translation career or since I already speak Spanish I’d have missed out on an opportunity to learn a new language at a remarkable speed. When will I get another chance to learn a new language and then spend 2 years in-country practicing it?

I’ll learn Romanian. I’ll even learn Swahili. Anything.

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Pure Speculation

Since we have all of this time to wait before we can even hear about programs we may be nominated for, I’ve devoted myself to re-reading everything I’ve read about the Peace Corps online, including blogs, journals and groups regarding depature dates and specific programs. During the interveiw our recruiter suggested that I really consider University teacher training and/or teaching, or think about it anyways and that William consider the possibility of Environmental Education. These were two programs we were iffy about, I wasn’t too keen on University teacher training and he wasn’t too keen on Environmental Education, although we wouldn’t mind doing such things. So today I was reading a journal kept by a volunteer in China who is serving with her husband- they are both doing education, one University TEFL and the other Environment. Random. Then I remembered that some months ago someone has started a new group for Peace Corps China, which I immediately checked out, which led me to the Yahoo Peace Corps China group where I discovered that there seems to be a plethora of couples serving in China- doing University TEFL and Environmental Education.

Could it be that our recruiter knew of such opportunities and thought he’d encourage us to consider programs that only 2 days ago we were indifferent about? Based on my bit of research it seems like the China programs leave at the end of June or early July. How perfect would it be if we got nominated to serve in China????

Of course this is some hard-core speculation and lots of wishful thinking, but I’ve the time to do so. We can dream can’t we?

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Will and I have FINALLY been interviewed, it lasted until 2am this morning and we couldn’t get to sleep until almost 3am out of sheer excitement and a bit of disappointment. Getting up for work today at 6:30am has been tough, but I dreamt of good things. The interview went well thankgoodness and we’re eligible for nomination! Woohoo! Despite having gone blank-minded and not remembering all of the good bits I wanted to say, we made it. The bit of disappointment is that the first batch of programs for couples for April, May and June don’t get posted until August and then programs for July, August and September don’t get posted until November! Talk about waiting just to wait! If we’re lucky, really lucky, our recruiter might be able to find something for us leaving in mid-late June. But that would be pushing it because we have noooo idea what finals schedule is until at least at the end of this school year in Oct/Nov.

I guess we have no option but to wait until then and just get involved in more activities to make us more competitive. It seems like a real jungle out there…dozens of couples competing for so few slots! I’m secretly hoping that something good comes up for the end of June 2006. Please, please, please.

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