September 06, 2003


Patrick's wife, Aaisha, works in international development in Africa. I asked him what she thinks about her job. She said for him to tell me, "It's like shoveling shit upstream." Guess I won't be going to her for inspiration.

Even though I want to pursue this with my eyes wide open, I don't want the cynicism and frustration of others to dampen my enthusiasm to at least try. As with most jobs, it will be bureaucratic, political and thankless. It will be emotionally and physically draining, with very little immediate results. But I will have to rise above it all to appreciate any humble returns in the day to day progress...or week to week, month to...

During my studies in the "Faith, Peace and Justice" Program at Boston College, Father Gullietti taught us how a tiny candle is able to caste a lot of light in a dark room. This was meant to inspire us to at least try and do some good amidst the ominous presence of evil. I finally found a quote that elloquently illustrates his teachings.

"How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world."

-- The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespear

September 05, 2003


For the medical evaluation, you can utilize a federal facility for free. However, at the time of this writing, I was told by my local Veterans clinic that they were only accepting veterans now because this is a 'time of war'. So I sought the services of the first private outpatient clinic that could schedule an appointment for me. This is in Princeton, N.J.

The following is meant to help those without full medical insurance coverage to estimate the cost of the Medical Evaluation, along with some additional costs for particular conditions. (I could have probably found a less expensive clinic, but chose the most convenient and quickest option.)

The full set of x-rays did not cost me anything since my dentist was generous enough waive all charges! (See my newspaper article about this in previous Blog below.)

Dental Examination:..........................$110.00
(includes cleaning)

General Medical:
New patient physical examination.......$242.00
Follow-up visit #1..................................70.00
Blood Type and RH screening..................94.00
Labratory Tests....................................406.00
Follow-up visit #2..................................70.00

Special Conditions:
Chest X-rays (for +TB).........................111.00
Psychiatric Evaluation..........................105.00

Its a bundle, but all in all, it is worth it. At least I know that anything that can be detected now has been considered!


The more I read about other Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) experiences in Central Asia, the more scared, excited, curious and nervous I get. As a woman, I'm constantly wondering how must I behave to assimilate, to not get harrassed; how to dress; questions of drinking, smoking, and socializing; how to gain respect. Doubts about success hang over me about the skills I bring, what they need and want; how to be effective. And the fears of failing emotionally, of needing too much support, of missing all the luxurious comforts. And then reality sets in and reminds me that I have only been 'nominated', yet to be 'invited' after the dental, medical, and legal clearance. There are first things first, and so I must get back to doing my taxes...

But the bright spot of today was stopping at the Princeton Dental Group to drop off my letter to the editor. They had already seen it and were totally thrilled! One lady gave me a huge hug, and I can tell that Rita was particularly touched that I mentioned her by name. They are lovely. Funny how a visit to the dentist has turned out to be the positive force that lifts the drudgery of all this bureaucracy.

And lastly, there is my concern for mom. I often feel that I cause her a lot of angst due to my lifestlye and all the risks I take. Even though I know that she worries about me even when I'm near to her, I can't help but feel that I sometimes put her through unnecessary stress by going off to some remote place. But this is my life as I want it to be. It is not the Peace Corps that makes me this way. I have always lived like this, which is why it feels right to be joining. If not PC, then it's the UN, ICRC, VCS, etc...

September 04, 2003


A new journey begins now that I've committed to serving in the Peace Corps for the next two years. It may just turn out to be a slight bend in the road, or it may open up a whole new world in my life. For now, it's a process to get through.

I first sent in my on-line application in May, followed by a complete set of forms, essays, recommendation letters, etc., before leaving for Turkey at the end of June. My interview took place upon my return from Nova Scotia in late July, and I was nominated for a Business/NGO Development post the very next day. It came as a big surprise to me that I was nominated to serve in Central Asia! Everyone knows how attached I am to Africa, but the more I openned myself up to this unbelievable opportunity, the more I embraced it.

The new hurdle is getting medical, dental and legal clearance. The past week has been filled with appointments to get poked, prodded, x-rayed and evaluated top to bottom. It's costing me a bundle, but here's a lining in the dark cloud...

Published 2 September 2003 in the Princeton Packet: "Generous Gesture Affirms Faith"

Dear Editor:

A gesture of kindness was bestowed upon me today that I would like to share with the Princeton community.

As I prepare to serve in the Peace Corps for two years as a volunteer in Central Asia, I went to the Princeton Dental Group for my dental evaluation, a required part of the Peace Corps pre-departure process. The extensive evaluation required a thorough examination, including a full set of x-rays and lengthy paperwork for the dentist and his assistant to fill out. Since both people were naturally curious about my upcoming commitment, we chatted about the challenges ahead and the inherent risks involved by going to such a far away and foreign place. To me, it was just an ordinary, friendly chat at the dentist office.

Little did I know at the end of my examination, that Dr. Taylor P. Reeder would offer his services for free! He casually said that I was doing a good thing, and if the Peace Corps was not going to pay for the evaluation, then he would not charge me for it.

Of course this saved me a lot of money, especially for the x-rays, but it was the token kindness in particular that touched me. It helped to make it all worthwhile that I am making a commitment to be of service to our “global community.” Dr. Reeder extended his generosity to me, so that I may go and give to others.

I once read, “Believe in abundance and you shall always have.” What happened today affirmed my faith in that saying. Indeed, our community is part of the privileged minority in the world who live in abundance. Imagine if we all give back, even if only a little, so that others in need may have. That is what I aspire for the world today, and I am telling this story to let your readers know that it is possible to share a part of ourselves with others while maintaining our own abundant lives.

My sincerest appreciation and gratitude go to Dr. Reeder and Rita at the Princeton Dental Group. Thanks to them, I not only have a two-year supply of toothbrushes, but a warm heart and a testament to what I believe in. Our community is a better place with citizens like you.

Dee Warren
Princeton, N.J.

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