Your Best Resource

About this time two years ago, I (yes, I, faithful readers) was scouring the interwebs for blogs from current volunteers about what it was like living in Peru, living in rural areas, and what volunteers DID.   In the process, I remember stumbling over one blog that gave me a little fright.  It was a WATSAN volunteer’s blog, and he wrote about doing survey work to improve a waterlines (or something along the theme) in the community. Survey work? Sounds like engineering!  Fuck.  I look on the dude’s profile, and he’s a Master’s International Student in Engineering and has a giant beard. I qualified for WATSAN with skills as a carpenter in a college theatre and mediocre Spanish grades. I am neither an engineer nor a facial hair grower.  How am I going to survive in Peru (a fear reverberated by most other volunteers, especially sans beard)?

(First off) Well, two years later I gotta say – it didn’t matter that I wasn’t an engineer. My job (and most Peace Corps jobs) didn’t require being engineer but rather just being a leader.  Being a leader in the community and knowing how to talk to people.  So when I didn’t know something and I hit a wall.  I did have some good resources.

I’ll let you in on a little hint: your best resource is….

Donate for PCWiki & PCJournals + Blog Roll

So Peace Corps Journals and Peace Corps Wiki is going slow due to budgetary problems (no such thing as a free lunch).  If you can, I highly suggest donating to them. They’re run by a group of RPCVs and not supported by Peace Corps nor the National Peace Corps Association, so they count on donor support. I’ve chatted with Will Dickinson (RPCV Armenia 2004-2006) a few times via email, and he’s a pretty solid dude.

If Peace Corps Wikis eased your fears during the application process or PC Journals helped you figure out a bit more about the life of a PCV, then consider a donation.  Hell, I donated $10 and I’m a current PCV.  I’m sure you can spare some change as well.

So in the mean time, here’s a quick blog role of a few key posts, by current Peru PCVs:

So What’s Been Going on with the Bathroom Project

When people would ask me in January about my project, I would go on and on about the wonders of dry bathrooms and how they're a great solution to rural sanitation projects (which they are), and about how we had the support of the local government and it was going to be great! My old high school raised about $3000 to contribute to the project, families were all progressing on their hygiene practices, it was great! I was on the fast track and looking  to complete the construction of 22 bathroom units by late June, and possibly run another bathroom campaign. 

That was then.

Now when my host family asks me 'Que tal el proyecto?', I tell them I really don't want to talk about it.   What's happened?

How do you pack for two years of your life?

This is the wrong question to ask yourself when packing for Peace Corps - whatever country. Although you’re going away for two years, you don’t need to pack for it.  You could walk onto the plane with a carry-on and be set. Seriously.

Why?  Well, people live where you’re going.  You’re not going to live out in the middle of nowhere, and this is not a camping trip.  You may be living in rough conditions, maybe without light or running water, but never the less people live there and have for generations, and will continue to after you leave. People buy and make clothes, wash themselves, wash their homes, sleep, wash their clothes, make their own food, and do pretty much everything else that you do. It might be a little different but that’s why you signed up, right?