Friday, July 20, 2012

A Few Words About the Future

A farmer showing off his abonos verdes kumanda yvrai.

Everyone in G 34 (the group I swore-in with) recently received our official invitation to our COS (close of service) conference.  The COS conference happens 3 moths before we are scheduled to swear out.  Our conference is in the first week of September, our swear-out date is the middle of December.  Its my understanding that the COS conference is supposed to prepare us to reenter American society.  I think we get info on our healthcare options, our non-competitive status for some(?) federal jobs, and the reentry culture shock we might experience.
It’s hard to look that far ahead right now. I’m involved with my community and comfortable in Paraguayan culture.  I’m never going to figure out all aspects of Paraguayan culture (that would be imposable), but I’m at the point where I am excited to eat my favorite dishes, I don’t feel too  awkward at fiestas, and I can sit and drink terere or mate for hours talking about cualquier cosa or just sitting in comfortable silence.
My very limited internet access makes doing the research necessary for planning my future difficult.  However, I did decide to apply for the position of Peace Corps Volunteer Coordinator (PCVC) for the agriculture sector.  If I get the position, I would work in the office in Asuncion in a Volunteer support capacity/ assistant to the head of the Agriculture sector.  I hope to get the position because I would get to stay in Paraguay for an additional year, and I would continue to help support my fellow Volunteers.  Of all the activities I have done in Peace Corps, supporting my fellow Volunteers in both a formal and informal capacity, as been one of the most rewarding (and challenging) parts.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel incredibly fulfilled when I one of the farmers I work with finally harvests the abonos verdes I educated him on months before, but I feel like the Volunteer support activities actually speaks to a career path I might follow post Peace Corps.
If I don’t get the coordinator position (a very real possibility) I am thinking about how else I can potentially follow this new found calling.  How can I translate these activities into a career in the US (or abroad for that matter).  I like supporting people in a new and stressful environment, and helping them navigate the ins and outs of both Peace Corps policy and Paraguayan culture.  If anyone who reads my blog has suggestions please let me know.  I need a back up plan if the coordinator position doesn’t pan out.

Post Script: I’m also taking the FSOT in September, but I doubt I’ll pass the exam the first time around.

Post Post Script: Also, I have two very guapo (hardworking) high school volunteers from Amigos de las Americas in my site.  They are building fuel efficient cook stoves (fogons) and playing with the kids in the community like pros.  If you are looking for a challenging summer program for high school youth, I definitely suggest looking into Amigos. Ill upload a photo next time I have a strong enough internet signal.

So, I didn't get the coordinator position.  I guess I'm glad I tried.  Dang. Time focus on those back up options.