Saturday, January 08, 2005

Committment

Update: I'm obviously back from my trip to Miami and school has already begun. I plan to write a long post about Miami, specifically South Beach, because it is a very interesting and peculiar place, and for some reason I got inspired while I was down there. Funny thing is, I didn't really do much of anything. I'm deeply engaged in a book by Paul Theroux, an ex-PCV who is now a prolific and well-respected travel writer. The name of the book is Happy Isles of Oceania, and it chronicles a long voyage he went on in 1991. His wife left him, he found out he might have cancerous melanoma, and then he was sent on a press tour to promote his new book through New Zealand and Australia. He brought his collapsible kayak with him, and along the way he decided to just take off and see the sights, not go home, because he needed to get his mind off his twin troubles. He moves from Australia though New Guinea to the Solomons, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and ends in Hawai`i. It's an absolutely gripping book -- anyone who is nominated or invited to a position in the Pacific should consider reading it. (He doesn't go to Micronesia, but if that's where you're being sent I recommend A Song for Satawal, by Kenneth Brower, which covers two islands Peace Corps services: Yap and Palau.)

When I came back from Miami I saw an e-mail from my PO asking me to call him this week. I haven't had any luck getting hold of him via phone, so I wrote to him asking when good times to reach him might be and whether this is good news or bad news. What I meant was, good news = an assignment, and bad news = unable to find an assignment for a while. I'm not sure he understood that's what I meant because he wrote back this morning with a cryptic message:

"Brian-
Are you ready to commit to a Peace Corps assignment?
I really need for you to say you are."

It made me kinda nervous for some reason. Mostly it was the wording -- I'm not sure if this is standard for someone who has a record of ETing or if something I've said specifically made him reticent about me. I have been sharing with him my hope for a Caribbean (or Pacific) assignment, and I told him my reasons, one of which is my desire to take on the Eastern Caribbean again and do it right. I thought mentioning that would be harmless, especially given that I added the disclaimer that I knew the Peace Corps would send me where they needed me. My fear is that I might have been too eager to share that -- he isn't drawing together a nomination, after all -- and it made him doubt my sincerity.

Or maybe it's just because I ETed once before, and he needs to clear his conscience that I won't do the same again.

I wrote back saying I most definitely am ready to commit and tried to ease some of his fears. For one thing, having done the PC before puts me in the unique position of knowing roughly what challenges and stresses I can expect during training, at least, so they won't blindside me, like they did before and they do to so many PCTs. I don't know exactly what he wanted to hear, but I hope I made him feel a little more secure about me. If anything, I'm less likely to ET than other volunteers for all these reasons... Plus the fact that I have a lot of my self-respect and dignity riding on this! I'm not proud of myself for ETing before and to do so again would not speak well of me. :)

So, nervous-making times. Hopefully he and I can finally connect over the phone and work this though. I'm ready for an assignment.

-Bri

2 comments:

Me said...

This must be a frantic weekend for you. I am just baffled by the email your PO sent you. I hope all is righted on Monday. Sending out positive energy.

me

~.i.am.ashleigh.~ said...

I started reading 'Happy Isles of Oceania'. It's rather interesting. I asked mom for those others you recommended for my b*day! ;-)