Friday, April 22, 2005

Have Fun Storming the Castle!

Last weekend the local Peace Corps recruiter hosted a "send-off" party for all those in the area who are heading off to the Peace Corps. That meant current invitees or nominees. It was great to get a chance to meet some others who are heading off to parts unknown like myself. Tallahassee is a college town, but not a very liberal one; most of the students here, based on a sampling of my ex-students, are business majors and don't have much interest in volunteerism or service. Plus this part of the country is not known for being very... cerebral. We have some RPCVs in the faculty, and there's a local RPCV club chapter, but up until a year ago the closest recruiter was in Atlanta. And as such, I actually felt it was possible I was the only person in all of Leon county who was going to the Peace Corps this year.

Turns out, I was wrong. There are about three other people with invitations in hand (two of them were both going to Guatemala come August, in an interesting coincidence!), and a couple more nominees. We met at a local park under a covered picnic area and everyone brought snacks or a covered dish (I brought gourmet bread and seasoning/olive oil to dip it in). Also attending were the local recruiter, the manager of the Atlanta recruiting office, the FSU Peace Corps Master's Degree International program head, and a couple of returned volunteers. It was nice to meet all these people and have this exciting thing in common together. Plus, the nominees knew almost nothing about PC policies, the application process, staging or training, etc. etc. and I was able to excercise what knowledge I've gained over the years, both through my abortive previous service and the intensive research I've done on my own.

My only regret is that I forgot to give the nominees (and the other invitees) the address of the peacecorps2 yahoo newsgroup -- I think it would be a great resource for them, as it is for so many of us newbies. I can't recommend it enough.

Five weeks and counting!!!



Jeff said...

I too worried a lot about packing for Peace Corps. But don't panic: You really don't have to pack everything you're going to need for the full two years, it's just not necessary.

Understand that Peace Corps is like moving someplace and getting a job, having an apartment, going shopping, etc. Peace Corps isn't like camping where you need to outfit yourself fully for the entire time.

What I mean is, NO Peace Corps Volunteers live so far out there's nothing to buy. There are stores everywhere people live. I know you "know" this, but plan for it, too. Where you are going, people wear socks, too, so if you eventually need more socks, you just go and buy more.

So when you pack for Peace Corps, plan what you'll need for, say, a month. Take 5 pair of undershorts, not 20. 5 t-shirts, not 20. 2 button-down shirts. And again not like camping, you WILL be able to do laundry.

But one thing you might try to find out is what might NOT be available. When I was a PCV in Nepal in the 1980s, I learn there were ONLY three things I could not buy there: size C batteries (only AAs and Ds); and clip-on sunglasses; and good blue jeans.

But I got around these minor limitations by (simply) buying a new flashlight that used D batteries, discovering I didn't need to wear jeans often, and asking my mom to mail me clip-ons (much more useful than care-packages of instant jello). You'll be surprise how willing folks back home are to send you stuff.

Have fun! jm

Anonymous said...

New Leislation and Global Health (Corps)

US legislation for global health corps
IANS Washington April 27: United States Senate majority leader, Mr Bill Frist has introduced legislation to help citizens in foreign countries through a global health corps, modeled like the Peace Corps of the 1960s.

The Global Health Corps Act of 2005 creates a programme for Americans to provide healthcare and related services to aid foreign communities.

“This legislation harnesses the power generated by America’s most precious resource: its generous and compassionate citizens. Within our borders there exists a vast reservoir of talent, knowledge and compassion that can help heal our global neighbours,” said Mr Frist, a Republican from Tennessee.

“And by sharing these talents with regions in need, we can spread health and healing while bolstering our nation’s image throughout the world,” he said.

He said: “Having treated patients in desperate and war-ravaged areas, this cause is near and dear to my heart. I have seen that real, tangible, medical intervention can help bridge the gaps and misunderstandings that so often divide cultures.”

“The recent tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean is a prime example. This legislation reflects the universal truth that medicine is not only an instrument of health, but a currency of peace.”

Similar to the Peace Corps, the bill establishes within the department of health and human services the office of the Global Health Corps.

The office will coordinate, unify and focus on the provision of healthcare personnel and services abroad by US government agencies and departments, by private organisations, and by US citizens serving as volunteers.

This office will also work with international and regional organisations, NGOs and foreign governments to accomplish its mission.

The Global Health Corps will include US government employees and non-federal volunteers (like private-sector doctors, nurses, veterinarians) who are trained healthcare professionals and practitioners.

It will also have a rapid response capacity that will consist of individuals from within the US Public Health Service who are trained, equipped and able to go to a foreign country or region within 72 hours in order to respond to healthcare disasters and emergencies.

Brian Reeves said...

Believe it or not, everything came out just right. I packed a little differently, though: instead of packing 5 pairs and then counting on laundry, I packed approximately 2 weeks worth of stuff. (I hate doing laundry and tend to let stuff pile up until it reaches critical mass. Plus it is irritating to have to do laundry every few days, especially on a night when you have something to do the next morning and all you want to do is sleep but you don't have any clean underwear...)

True, this *isn't* like camping. It has some similarities, though, in that bug repellant, quick-dry towels, flashlights and the like are suggested to bring.

What I have to keep reminding myself is just what you mentioned: people need to buy socks in Guyana. And everything else. I'm not going to bloody *Mars* -- but if you took the Packing List to heart you might think you were! But Guyana, esp. Georgetown, should have most of what I need, and if it doesn't I'll modify, like you did.

Good suggestions, by the way.