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January 05, 2004


Consolidation

I've been keeping two blogs (one personal and this one for Peace Corps) and have decided to consolidate them into one and use Wonderlustress from now on. I am so close to leaving for Uz anyway that my future posts will be about Uz and the Peace Corps. Plus you'll get a little extra by way of my personal life.

If you don't follow me to Wonderlustress, then GO FOR IT if you're just thinking about joining the Peace Corps; STICK WITH IT if you are enduring the application process; HANG IN THERE if you're preparing emotionally and materially to depart; and A HEARTY GREETING from Uz if you are a PCV or RPCV!

December 31, 2003

...yes, it is 2 Weeks 'Til Uzbekistan!!!

I will have to start packing at some point, but I'm soaking in the present moments for when I do inevitably leave.

December 23, 2003


3 Weeks 'Til Uzbekistan!!!

And how do I feel?...excited, scared, sad, skeptical, and overwhelmed, but most of all I feel panicked, and down right cranky! (A warning of the emotional rambles to come.)

Christmas has made my preparations ten times more hectic and has left me with very little time for much needed reflection about the imminent change in my life. My days have been full of executing tasks on my daily lists, driving, buying, deciding, exchanging, making new lists. The little time in between has been spent imagining my absence from the everyday life of my loved ones when I'm gone. Of course this has been made more acute while preparing my will. The reality of my absence made clearer by the considerations.

Perhaps I’m depressed by the recent morbid thoughts. I have internalized how others will feel after I leave for Uz, realizing the void of what I bring to their daily lives now. I think about how empty the house will be without me, how quiet a drive in the car will be without me, how there will be no more midnight chatters or morning coffees. The most distressing is how there will be no other end of the telephone with me on it for anyone until a few months after training and I am settled into a house with (hopefully, but highly unlikely) a phone. Even then, it will be sporadic and unreliable. Calls from Uz will also be prohibitively expensive, if and when, I can find service. Unfortunately, email and the internet cannot yet close the gap of hearing each other's voice, which is as close to seeing and touching as we can get from a distance.

How is this going to work? How can my loved ones here share their lives with me if they can't even pick up the telephone and call me when they have exciting news, or boring news, when they're sad or stressed, when they have an important decision to make, or when they just plain miss me? I'm afraid I will feel trapped, without the power to maintain both lives. I'm afraid that trying to hold on to this life will handicap my effectiveness in Uz. I'm afraid I can't have everything and I have everything to lose. Whether I go or stay has sacrifices I am not prepared to make.

I have been conflicted about all of this for some time, and no, it hasn't gotten any better or easier. The panic I feel now from my looming departure is suffocating.

December 17, 2003


Questions/Emergencies


Here is the Peace Corps contact information if anyone has questions about my safety and status while at post in Uz. In the event of an emergency, they have the latest information as to my status and whereabouts if you cannot get in touch with me. But before you use it, PLEASE go through the following considerations FIRST:

ONE: Remember that lapses in communication with me either by phone, mail, e-mail, or posting on this site, DOES NOT mean that there is something wrong. Sometimes mail gets lost, phone service is unreliable, internet service is too slow to post often, or I have merely immersed myself in work and do not have time.

TWO: PLEASE use rational judgment should a perceived emergency arise, such as seeing or reading news reports about an event in or near Uz. DO NOT assume that I will be directly affected and DO NOT assume the worst until you learn more about what is really going on. Wait a day or two before you call to give everyone in the system a chance to gather information.

THREE: The Peace Corps has a very effective and proven emergency response system to reach everyone in country, even in remote areas, and will ensure our safety as their first priority in the event of an emergency. DO NOT PANIC.

General Questions and Status, from 9am-5pm EST, Mon.-Fri.
Office of Special Services (OSS)
(800) 424-8580 ext. 1470
(202) 692-1470

Emergency, after hours answering service of OSS above
(202) 638-2574

December 16, 2003


4 Weeks 'Til Uzbekistan!!!


Received my "Staging Kit" today from the Peace Corps. Staging is a two day event that takes place for all volunteers prior to leaving the country. UZ17 will have our staging in Philadelphia from 13-15 January, and the schedule looks like an intense cram of introductions, policies/procedures, safety, cross-cultural issues, logistics, and how to ensure success in the upcoming three months of training in Uz.

There is also the pre-departure checklist, which includes very important considerations like assigning a Power of Attorney to someone who can handle my affairs (i.e., banking, taxes, apartment sub-let, etc.). This will most likely be a neutral party like my lawyer. I must also choose two emergency contacts who can react quickly and rationally (the instructions ask NOT to assign parents, although they can be contacted, too). Lastly, it feels morbid, but I should have a will drawn up.

Someone also has to open my mail, assess their relative importance, send them to me, and handle follow up instructions when things come up. I'll have to collect all the things I need to file my taxes from overseas, too! There is just a bunch of little logistical life matters that must be either covered remotely, or done by someone I can trust. All I can say is thank God for internet and telephone banking, automatic bill payments, etc. At least I can still maintain a level of direct control over my finances. *hope*

December 13, 2003


Brrrrrr....


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HAMWeather

December 09, 2003


5 Weeks 'Til Uzbekistan!!!

Five more weeks until my entire life changes forever.

Everyone I've come across thus far, who have served in the Peace Corps, has no regrets. From those who served full term, to those who had early termination (quit), to those who were administratively separated (kicked out), not one of them would change a thing. Quite remarkable given the number of horror stories and gory details about service...the toilets, the harassment, the diarrhea, the loneliness, the frustration, the thefts, the dog-bites, the bugs, the stone throwing, the food, the cold, the isolation.

But I guess everything balances itself out somehow by the awesome moments of interacting with people from a different culture, learning about them and learning about yourself from them, giving them a part of yourself and for once feeling useful to the world. There's also the travel, seeing faraway lands you never thought you'd see, and having memories of a lifetime. And there's the knowing that surviving this would help to change the world and lead you to more remarkable things to come.

Balance is everything.

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