The Northern Coast

The Northern Coast
The Northern Coast--photo by Zack Thieman

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Things I'll miss

I was thinking about writing a blog of the top-ten things I'll miss about the U.S., since I'm down to eight days until I leave. But then when I was thinking of all the things I'll miss other than friends, family, and the places I generally love, I realized there was a common trend. So I made a diagram (I know, not fancy shmancy like some of you graphic designers out there. I work with what I got--Paint).

Click on the image to get a better close-up-- this sh*t is hard to read.

Not super deep or anything, but when it comes down to it, these are the things that are going to be immediately difficult to overcome. My life is filled with convenience and privilege, and that's soon to change.

However, I am still incredibly sad about leaving the non-material things behind, such as my supportive family/friends/boyfriend. And I am very sad I will be completely missing summer this year (headed straight into autumn in Peru). At the end of each day, I feel a panic come over me. Another day is gone, and another day closer to my entire life completely changing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shared Travels

Welcome to my new blog! It's been a long time coming, but considering today is May 24th, and I'm flying out of Portland to D.C. on June 8th, you can see that the time has come to make things final. So, without further adieu, here is my official Peace Corps blog that I will be writing on for my two-plus years of service.

Take a look around! Notice on the right I have my assignment title, my address during training along with instructions on what is appropriate to send me, links to follow my blog if you're a blogger member OR just sign up for email notifications, my skype address, and eventually a slide show from my new flickr account. You can also go straight to my flickr to see those photos (when they're uploaded in the near future) at

You'll also notice there are already blog posts on here dating back to 2010. Say what? Have I been writing secretly and not sharing? Nope. I just copied over all of my Peace Corps related posts from my previous blog site A Case For Living. That way you can chronologically follow my journey from beginning (going to that initial interview) to end.

Also, on the very bottom of the blog, I have links to my other blogs that I will not be updating during service, as well as a Peace Corps required disclaimer.

Now that I have this post on here, time for some frequently asked questions.

When are you leaving?
I am flying out of Portland at 11:20 am to Washington D.C. on June 8th. On June 9th I will have volunteer staging/orientation where I sign off my life to the Peace Corps, receive my government issued passport, talk about safety, discuss expectations, and talk about whether we're ready for all of this. On June 10th we fly out of Washington D.C. headed to Miami at 12:30 Eastern Time, and then leave from there straight to Lima, Peru.

Where are you going in Peru?
After we fly into Lima, we are actually going to our training site in Chaclacayo, a town east of Lima. I will be living and training there for 10 weeks, training 5 days a week from 8:00 to 5:00, working on language, safety, and technical training. During my entire time in the Peace Corps I will be living with a host family, so I will have a host family at training and a host family at my site. While I am in training, my country director will decide where they want to put me to serve. I could be sent anywhere from the Andes mountains where it's above 8,000 ft elevation and very rural, to a town along the coast where weather is much more mild. I could either be put somewhere where I'm very isolated, or somewhere I could easily travel to see another volunteer. The director will interview me, and decide where I will be best put based on my needs as well as the needs of the community I'll be moving to.

What are you going to be doing?
My assignment title is Youth Development Facilitator. That means I'm going to be working with disadvantaged youth, doing anything from creating after-school programs and summer camps to working in orphanages and homes for abandoned children. I could be working on a variety of different programs, ranging from sex education, drug-free awareness, to simply helping them boost self-esteem and consider higher education.

Will you have internet?
I'm not sure about the consistency of my internet yet, but as far as I know I will have regular access to internet via internet cafes during training, and there is a possibility there will be internet cafes at my site as well. I may not have access daily, but I will still be able to get online fairly regularly. So you'll be seeing me on facebook, skype, and writing on this blog. I might even have a cell phone!

What will you eat?
As many of you know, I am gluten-free, which doesn't exactly make traveling and dining the easiest thing. However, the Peace Corps wouldn't have placed me in Peru if there weren't viable gluten-free options for me so that I can stay healthy and not starve to death. From what I hear, food is as varied as climate in Peru, but some common foods are rice, potatoes, meat, and jell-o. Peru is famous for ceviche, fish cooked with the acid of lime, and we all know that is delicious. I'm not too worried, I am confidant in my communication skills as far as my food intolerance goes, and I'll be living with a family with whom I can make it pretty clear. And if all else fails, I can make my own food.

Can you come home?
It's not really common for people to come home during service. In the event of an emergency I may be granted time to come home, but I hope a situation like that won't arise. However, I do accrue vacation time, and people are allowed to visit me! I am not allowed visitors my first three months of service (not counting training) or my last three months. So, seriously, come see Peru and me!

How much are you paid? What are the benefits?
I am paid a stipend based on cost of living in the area I end up. They want me to live at about the same level as my community, however they know I'd go crazy if I wasn't able to say, go out to a movie every once in awhile. So, I'll probably be better off than those around me, but not by much. I also have fully-covered health care paid for by the Peace Corps, life-insurance, loan deferment (I don't have any loans, though), I get a $7,000 readjustment fund when I'm done with service, and a one-year non-competitive standing with government jobs. Not bad, if you ask me.

Are you and Justin staying together?
Yes. It's going to be hard, really hard, but we've been through something like this before. He was in Africa for a year, and then I was in Spain for five-months. We know it's going to be rough, but he's going to try and visit (like you all should!) and we're going to do the best we can with what we've got.

What are people in Peru like?
I don't know yet. That's why you have to keep reading once I get there :)