Saturday, September 13, 2014

What's another year?

Considering my readership consists mainly of my mom and maybe a few friends, this news is pretty lackluster since they have already been informed but here it is.....I'm staying in Peru another year!

What?  Todd, why?  No seriously, what the hell are you thinking?!?!

It's funny how things can change in a short period of time.  Up until June I had not even considered the idea of extending for a third year, but an opportunity presented itself to me and it seemed too good to pass up.  There are a lot of perks that go along with this third year that I will outline below, plus I realized I am still pretty young and I may not get the opportunity to live in a foreign country basically expense-free again so what's the harm in putting off the real world for another year?

The deets:

Job:  Peace Corps Volunteer

Actual Job:  Working with the NGO Planeta OcĂ©ano (pretty much full-time) on projects related to marine research, marine education, and marine ecotourism development

Location:  Lima, Lima, Peru (the big city!)

Perk 1:  I get to live in an apartment in Lima with 2 of my best friends from PC so I will actually have a social life and feel like an adult again.

Perk 2:  Working with educated professionals in my field on projects I am passionate about and will benefit my future career.

Perk 3:  More money!  As a third year I will accrue almost double per month in my readjustment allowance that I'll get when I finish my service next year.

Perk 4:  More time to explore Peru.  I absolutely love this country and haven't had enough time/money to see all of it so I am hoping this 3rd year will give me a chance to see even more of it.

Perk 5:  More time for friends/family to come visit!  Come on.  If I can give 3 years of my life to live/work here then you guys can give a week or so of yours to come see me!

Perk 6:  I get a paid trip home for 30 days before I start my third year.  So if you guys want to see me then try to make yourselves in GA for the month of December.

I'm sure there are a lot more that I will discover along the way but these are the main ones that helped to sway my decision.  It's funny how when our time here starts to approach the end, only then do people consider extending.  From my training group of 57 we have 14 PCVs extending for a third year.  From my group of 14 environmental volunteers, we have 6 extending!  I think that says a lot about the organization, the country, and us as individuals.

Well that's all I've got for now.  I only have about a month and a half left in Paracas and I have a few things to finish up as well as making arrangements for my move to Lima.

Until next time,

Todd

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

From counting up to counting down.

There's not really a precise date that it happens, but in every Peace Corps Volunteer's service there is a big shift.  The shift from when they go from counting up the amount of time they've been in the country of service to counting down the remaining months.  For most it's probably after the mid-service mark.  Instead of telling people you've been in your country for a year you might start to say you only have a year left.  Well that shift happened awhile ago for me....probably in January or so.  And now I am well into my second year--I'm on the back nine so to speak and the time is dwindling.  As of today I have been in Peru for 1 year, 9 months, and 2 days...or 641 days total.  My COS (close of service) will be sometime in November.  The official date for my cohort of volunteers is November 21, but we are allowed to request to COS up to 30 days early if all of our projects are wrapped up.  I am thinking about requesting to COS on November 5, my half-birthday.  What a way to celebrate 26.5, right?!  Transition from PCV to tourist/traveler/wanderer/burgeoning adult.  That leaves me with less than 5 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer....a mere 141 days.  To some that may seem like a significant amount of time, but to me it seems like a flash in the pan.  There are so many events and travels planned between now and then that I know it will be here before I know it.  How is it already mid-June?  Where has this year gone?  The first year of my service seemed to creep by but year 2 is flying.  Am I ready to be done?  In many ways, yes.  Am I ready to leave Peru and say goodbye to my fellow volunteers that have become like family to me?  Not at all.  So in my remaining 141 days I will try to soak up as much of this country and experience as I can.  I have a lot of plans on the horizon and I know the time will pass in the blink of an eye.  I'm ready but I'm not.  This Peace Corps life is a tricky one and I can say with confidence that the majority of volunteers experience a radical array of emotions that can switch day to day or even minute to minute.  At some moments I'd leave in an instant if I could, and at others I can't even begin to process what it will feel like to step foot on that plane (or ship in my case) and bid farwell to this amazing country that has been home to me for a such a significant amount of time.  So with my remaining 141 days I plan to aprovechar [take advantage of] this wonderful country, my government-appointed friends, a flexible schedule, and delicious street food.

Until next time,

Todd      

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Show me a Peace Corps Volunteer....

About a week ago a bunch of PCVs started sharing an article link that included a blog post by a current PCV in Zambia titled "Show Me a Peace Corps Volunteer."  I think every PCV and RPCV out there can identify with the majority of what this volunteer is saying.  Even through the ups and downs I am still grateful for this experience and proud to be a member of the Peace Corps family.  I don't know what I would do without my government-issued friends--my fellow volunteers.  I've included the words of Matt Young, the Zambia PCV, to share with all you readers (aka Mom) what it's like to be a Peace Corps Volunteer throughout our roller-coaster 2 years of service, and I assume how we will still feel after our service.  Check it out:


"Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you people of all colors, ages, and creeds. I’ll show you men and women and people who are sitting in between. I’ll show you daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, all of whom have left those families to find new ones across the world.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you someone who knows illness, misery, cold, heat, and crawling infestations of a thousand varieties. I’ll show you someone who has become intimate with infection, friendly with fungus, and can compare the viscosity of fecal matter over a meal. I’ll show you someone who gave up deodorant long ago and subscribes to “it’s clean enough” more often than not. Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you someone who hand-scrubs their one collared shirt every night in order to be presentable before their tribal leadership, their classroom full of eager students, or their government official. I’ll show you someone who boils their water to bathe, filters it to drink, and sweats to haul it home.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you hair that’s too long, a bike that’s too seldom maintained, and an entire wardrobe that hasn’t been washed in weeks.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you someone who has faced fear, change, animosity, and misunderstanding. I’ll show you someone who looks at those obstacles as learning opportunities, even if it is just learning to cry at the end of the day for all that didn’t work.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you people driven to purpose, to change, to throwing themselves whole-heartedly into their work and living it out, each and every single day of their service. I’ll show you someone who is up at the crack of dawn to dig a fish pond and burns the candle late writing grants and letters home. I’ll show you someone who knows when, sometimes, it’s better to take the day off and play with the kids than to go to yet another meeting. I’ll show you someone who, when they do hold meetings, may wait for hours for no one to show up but will keep showing up themselves in case someone finally does.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you someone who knows that even the most impoverished person can be rich.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you someone who has tried nine different ways to cook an egg. Only one of them has little bits of shell still in it.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you someone who knows great frustration but also great love. I’ll show you a person who comprehends the greatest extent of hopelessness after another sleepless night next to their pit latrine, and I’ll show you the great depths of compassion when a friend brings medicine.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you a 55-year-old divorced mother of three who has weathered some of life’s greatest challenges — getting married, raising children, reentering the workforce at the age of 40 — and who is now throwing herself head-first into another. I’ll show you a 22-year-old who just graduated from college last semester and has the world at his fingertips. I’ll show you a 65-year-old retired widower coming back for a third tour of Peace Corps, driven by a new chapter in life.Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you ecstatic joy, bitter cynicism, and crushing despair. I’ll show you blind optimism, deadening restlessness, and persevering hope. Sometimes all in the same day.
Show me a group of Peace Corps volunteers, and I’ll show you someone who is Haitian American from Washington D.C., someone who is Japanese American from Hawaii, someone who is Pakistani American from the San Francisco Bay Area, someone who is Irish American from Georgia, someone who is Mexican American from Los Angeles, and someone who is Italian American from New Jersey. All of whom are called, without variation or discrimination, “white foreigner.”
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you a sense of humor warped by 18 months’ worth of poop jokes and a vocabulary honed on a collection of novels large enough to make a lit major turn green with envy.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you a person who wants to change the world. I’ll show you a person who gets easily frustrated because she has high expectations for herself and doesn’t want to let her community down. I’ll show you a person who is idealistic and enthusiastic and dedicated and determined and maybe a little bit naive. I’ll show you a person who fails at changing the world. But I’ll show you a person who has come to realize just how much her world has changed her. And I’ll show you a world that is ever so slightly better for it.
Show me a Peace Corps volunteer, and I’ll show you a citizen of the global community. Someone who can never go home again, or see the world as they did before their service. Someone who was once a child, staring at the finger pointing toward the sky. Now they look past it to see the moon."
-Matt Young, PCV in Zambia

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When did things stop feeling new?

I know I've kind of been slacking on the whole monthly video thing.  I apologize but to be honest I stopped taking videos last month.  I have videos for all of January but haven't gotten around to editing an putting them together but I will do that at some point in the near future.  I guess I've just gotten a little distracted, lazy, and kind of "not in the mood" to take videos.  Sorry, Mom!  But here's an update anyways on something I realized the other day...

So I was on the bus the other day--Soyuz, which is the bus line that I take pretty much anytime I travel farther than Pisco.  It's the bus that I have to take to get anywhere basically.  If I get on it heading south I'll end up in Ica, and usually when I head north I am en route to Lima.  One day I started trying to add up how many hours of my life I have spent on a Soyuz bus but after awhile it became pretty ridiculous so I stopped.  Anyways, I was on the bus on my way to a regional meeting in Cerro Azul, a coastal town about 2 hours north of my site.  As I was listening to a podcast of This American Life and gazing out the window all I could think of was "ugh I'm sick of seeing the same crap every time I'm on the bus: sand and desert with a few towns sprinkled along this highway."  As this thought developed I had  a flashback to one of the first few times I rode the Soyuz bus.  My face was glued to the window as I was gazing out and trying to soak up anything and everything I was seeing.  I remember feeling so excited to notice the smallest things: a deserted beach with one or two little shack structures where people would sell snacks during the summer, a message painted or carved into the side of a hill, a particular billboard or sign with something misspelled.  It was all so new and so exciting to be experiencing.  And these feelings continued for awhile every time I rode the bus.  But when did those feelings stop?  When did the excitement fade?  At what point did these things not feel new anymore?  I guess in a way it was a good sign: I was integrating, getting used to my new life here and things started to feel normal and typical.  But on the other hand it's a little sad that things seem to have lost their luster.  At this point in my service it's hard to think back to these instances and remember how fresh everything felt.  Maybe at this point in my time here...some 18+ months in I have just become bitter and jaded and have accepted everything as just plain old life.  Nowadays I only get these excited, "new" feelings when I travel to a different part of Peru and experience it for the first time.  While I love and value these new experiences I guess I just miss the "new" feeling being a part of my daily life.

Can you tell that being a Peace Corps Volunteer gives you plenty (read: too much) time on your hands to think and reflect about anything and everything?  Anyways, that's my tidbit for now.  I'll try and update again soon and maybe even get around to organizing those January videos.

Until next time,

Todd

Friday, February 14, 2014

December 2013 in 93 seconds

Happy New Year!  Before we get too excited about 2014, check out my last video of 2013--December in 93 seconds (sorry...I've been trying to upload since Jan but my internet hasn't been the best).  Enjoy!

Todd

video

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November?

Bad news....I went on a video hiatus for the month of November!  Good news....I've already begun for December so check back in January!

Abrazos!

Todd

Thursday, October 31, 2013