How Are You Feeling?

Sixth Month 12, 2011

1. Lack of understanding; uncertainty.
2. A situation of panic; a breakdown of order.

I was in the dining room just after breakfast on 04/19/11 when I received THE CALL. My Placement Officer called to issue me an invitation to Asia. "Asia? Did you say Asia?" Confused is an understatement. I couldn't even speak and had to apologize for not speaking. Asia was nowhere on my radar. When my Placement Officer called on 04/14/11, he asked why I did not want to serve in Eastern Europe, and we had a discussion about the Ukraine and the limits of my tolerance for racist remarks and encounters. After that discussion, I was thinking why is he asking me about Eastern Europe, and as the conversation continued and we discussed dates of departure I just thought that maybe the Gambia was full and that I would have to wait past Sixth Month for an invitation. Random thought all that day and throughout the week as I wrapped my head around this invitation...Asia? Asia? Asia?

1. The feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one's hopes or expectations.

So I am sitting in the dining room with the phone in my hand thinking "Asia? I don't want to go to Asia"I don't sit very long because I received the call when I was walking out the door on my way to work. I have never been so happy to have planning first period. I quickly walked to work and sat down at my desk to find out which countries in Asia had primary teacher education training...Cambodia and Philippines. I know nothing about either country and all I do know is that Asia is not Africa. I had spent time preparing myself for the possibility of not being sent to the Gambia. I had spent no time at all preparing myself for Asia. I was deeply disappointed and I felt guilty for being disappointed. I was happy to get another invitation, but not happy about Asia. I looked at all of the information I could find for PC Cambodia and PC Philippines. My immediate thoughts... both have long home stays, but volunteers in Cambodia remain with a home stay family for the duration of their service (oh my).

1. A sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.
2. A feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.

I wish I had asked my Placement Officer directly why Asia? Why the Philippines? Why not Africa? Why not the Gambia? I honestly believe that the not knowing contributes to my feelings of confusion and disappointment. I knew that I would accept any invitation unless I feared for my life in a particular country. I think that knowing why I was invited to this program in this country would alleviate some of my negative feelings. Yes, I could still call and ask, and I may do that before Staging (orientation). However, I think I passed up an opportunity to get a glimpse into the thoughts of my Placement Officer at the time he issued the invitation.

1. A feeling of anxiousness or apprehension.
2. A feeling resulting from anxiety or anticipation.

I was actually relieved to discover that I was feeling nervous. For weeks I didn't know what I was feeling, meaning I couldn't find the appropriate word to attach to my feelings. Over the course of a few weeks, several conversations with friends from PC Botswana, and e-mail correspondence with current PC Philippines Volunteers helped me to realize that I was feeling nervous.

With the exception of feeling disappointed when my Peace Corps service came to an end, I  have not experienced any of these feelings before in relation to the Peace Corps. Granted, I know more now than I did when I was invited to PC Namibia and PC Botswana, but that is only a minor part of this picture. I am nervous about the Philippines for several reasons that simply did not apply to my previous experiences. I am nervous about serving outside Africa. I am nervous about establishing meaningful working relationships with my counterparts and the other volunteers. I am especially nervous about the home stay situation in the Philippines...6 month home stay. 3 months of living with an unknown family during training and 3 more months of living with an unknown family after I am placed at my permanent site. 6 months with limited freedom and privacy. I pray that these home stay situations develop into positive learning opportunities.

As way opens... 

How am I feeling? I am feeling excited, eager, and overwhelmed. Despite the confusion and initial/residual disappointment regarding my placement, I am very happy to be given another opportunity to serve in the US Peace Corps. I know that I am blessed to have this opportunity. I am very aware of the fact that there are others who would love to serve and have not been extended an invitation. I am also aware that this journey is not all about me. I did not apply to the Peace Corps to travel to Africa. I applied to the Peace Corps because I have been called to serve. God has called me to serve, and as Friends say, I will proceed as way opens.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way that you organized your posting; perhaps a reflection of the organization of your thought processes?
    I do wonder why the Placement Specialists cannot be just a little forthcoming and give a little more explanation for the final outcome of the process of issuing an invitation.
    I agree totally with and share your perspective that, in the end, it is all about serving and there will always be a way.
    Best wishes!