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.


Commencement Weekend

Sixth Month 3, 2011
Commencement Day. I did not attend any ceremonies, but I did take the day off from work, borrowed a car, and set out to cross off two more items from my to do list.
  • manicure/pedicure - ( overrated and I immediately regretted spending the money for something I could have done myself.
  • movie on opening day -  X-Men: First Class (I enjoyed the movie but, (spoiler alert) did the one black man in the movie have to die? Yes, of course he did.)

Sixth Month 4, 2011
Today I had an "appointment" to spend time with a Friend from Meeting. I planned to leave the house at 06:30, catch the bus and be at REI before 09:00. My plans went awry at 06:31, but the day went according to God's plan and was a blessing on so many levels...more on this later when I post about "walking".

Sixth Month 5, 2011
Sabbath. I rested in the Lord and allowed my emotions to surface. I will deal with the emotions later, but for now I have acknowledged the complexity of my emotions at this time in my life. Thank you Lord for your guidance and your love.


30 Days and Counting

Okay, so I have 30 days left until Staging (Orientation). I received my invitation on Fourth Month 19 and at that time I had 73 days until Staging. Now I only have 30 days remaining. So, what have I been up to, you ask? I am glad you asked that question. The short story is I have been completing paperwork, researching the Philippines, and enjoying time with friends and family. For a detailed account continue reading...

  • Aspiration statement and updated resume 
  • Pre-Arrival Questionnaire
  • Host Family & Site Placement Questionnaires 
  • No-fee passport and Visa Applications 

Enjoying Time with Friends and Family
Fifth Month 27, 2011
  • Completed reading the Philippines Welcome Book on the flight to Tucson, AZ to visit a friend from PC Botswana
  • Arrived in Tucson, AZ. Talked the night away with my friend.

Fifth Month 28, 2011
  • Breakfast at IHOP Yum green apple, raspberry, and strawberry lemonade
  • A trip to the post office to mail my IFLA membership application (Huge smile)
  • A trip to the Pima County Public Library (I tweeted my visit...RsquaredPCV)
  • Dinner at Guadalajara Grill with Rosie

Fifth Month 29, 2011
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Purchased a Starbucks Frappuccino (overrated, but I checked an item off of my to do list)
  • Blessed to attend Pima Monthly Meeting.
  • Received my first professional  manicure ( I think I got ripped off, but I checked an item off of my to do list)
  • Dinner at Caruso’s Italian Restaurant (spinach and seafood cannelloni)

Fifth Month 30, 2011
Returned to Denver, CO

Researching information about the Philippines
In the name of research, I checked out over 35 books, travel guides, language CD's, and maps from the library. I also e-mailed seven volunteers who are currently serving in the Philippines with my questions and concerns related to serving as an "older" volunteer, libraries in the Philippines, and African-American hair care in the Philippines. Please see the "Books" tab where I will list and discuss the books I read about the Philippines and during my service in the Philippines.