Friday, February 4, 2011

Im Actually Going to Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia, St Vincent that is.

So today concludes the first week of Pre Service Training (PST).  We have covered the very basics of PC policies and procedures, some common health problems and how to deal with them and/or prevent them, health and wellness, nutrition, Safety and Security.  We took a trip to Castries for a scavenger hunt, managed our way on the bus system (which is more like an overcrowded mini van), where we learned how to treat the common cold and fever with bush remedies (lemon grass, peppermint, bay leaves, and some other things). We have ended each training session with a trip to the beach to swim, watch the sunset. you know.
Tomorrow morning I will fly from St Lucia to St Vincent, where I will continue my PST for two more months.  During that time I will live with a Homestay family so that I can effectively integrate into the community and culture. I will attend training sessions three times a week at the Peace Corps office in the capital, Kingstown.  One day a week I will be visiting my work site, a high school in the Mesopotamia Valley, for observation. Upon completion of PST, I will be sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) (currently I am a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT)). Surprisingly, wearing business clothes has not been too bad, considering that it includes black dress pants and blouses in 85F heat.  I have acclimated to the weather rather quickly.  Luckily, too, there is almost always a cool breeze, which helps with the heat. No AC though.  But I actually prefer it that way.

            There are 44 volunteers in total, 12 of which are going to St Vincent.  The ages range from 22 to 66.  There are a fair number of retiree volunteers, and two married couples. The volunteers come from all over the country with a concentration originating from the Midwest (Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, etc) and California and Texas. There is one from Philly, one from Delaware, and one other from NY.  Every one has a very different background; from what they were doing before PC, what they studied in school, and their views and beliefs, and lifestyle in general.  For the most part every one is pretty cool.  However, it was very striking to me, how similar and yet how vastly different we all are.  This leads me to my next point-The peculiarities of PC EC.  PC EC comprises six island nations.  However, all volunteers have a week of PST in St Lucia, PC EC’s headquarters, together.  After the first week, we are all dispersed among the six island nations.  This is unfortunate because in the extreme circumstances that we are in we have already formed close relationships and now we are being separated.  We will all meet again in St Lucia in May of 2012 for Mid Service Training.
            Now on to thoughts about being a PCT and living in another country.  Right now, it feels like I am away at summer sleep away camp.  We play games at night, hang out on the beach after training, get to know one another, go to “activities” (training sessions), etc. I think the realization that I will be living and working here for the next two years has not really sunk in yet.  We talk a lot about integration and being culturally sensitive, but none of this will seem relevant until I am fully immersed and alone (which will happen starting Saturday). This week has been quite an overload of information all at once.  It was a bit overwhelming at times. And I am willing to bet that it will only get worse in terms of overwhelming with information and in every other aspect. In summary, every thing is very overwhelming right now.  there is alot of things to juggle and take into consideration all at once.  On the surface, adjusting to this endeavor is going well, but only time will tell. 
More on my inner thoughts later, but i need to go to bed now! Gotta be up at 530am to leave for St Vincent! So excited, nervous, anxious, curious, etc about what life will be like the next two years and especially in the next few weeks!

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