How-To Peace Corps

So you want to immerse yourself in the Peace Corps experience from the comfort of your own home? Cool.
Step 1: Preparing your House
  • Tell your internet, cable, and electricity providers that you’re going on vacation for two years. Of course the first two don’t really matter since you wouldn’t have either of them wthout electricity. Now is probably a good time to clean out the fridge.For good measure, cancel your cell phone plan and get a prepaid feature phone.
  • If your stove is electric, well, go buy a camp stove and propane tank from the sporting goods store. Stuff your oven full of rocks or whatever because you won’t have enough money to make the original purchase of an oven with your move in allowance. Don’t worry, you’ll learn how to turn your stove into an oven.
  • If you live in a climate where it’s always hot or doing this experiment during the summer, time to leave the windows and all the doors forever open. For good measure, remove the screens as well. You’ll probably want to purchase a mosquitto net to cover your bed, otherwise, good luck sleeping!
  • If you’ve got a car, give the keys to a friend, public transportation only!
  • Now is a good time to read up on how to hand wash laundry. Probably a good time to install a clothes line if you don’t have one.
  • Also a good time to start learning how to garden.
  • Turn your hot water heater off. Boil your water or figure out how to heat it using the sun.

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Peace Corps is a Roller Coaster

Typically when I meet someone outside of Peace Corps they ask me about my service. At some point I’ll mention the ups and downs which make it difficult to answer question. At a given time I might be really up, and a week later, really down. Peace Corps is a two year long roller coaster that all volunteers experience to some degree. I realized today, after contemplating the last few days that I’d gone through were probably the most rapidly changing part of the ride in months. What better time then, to clarify what the ups and downs of Peace Corps actually means through a 24 hour example.

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Technology

Pooping in a hole, living without electricity or hot water, and hiking twenty minutes waiting ten minutes and 20 more minutes on public transportation to get to a food store, hardly compared to my withdraw from technology. I’ve thrived with technology, teaching myself electrical engineering and computer science, using Wikipedia to teach myself whatever topic, using Google Calendar to keep my life organized, etc. Arriving to Panama was taking a large step back in my life, and an introduction to living much more basic. This post is dedicated to all the gadgets that have made living a bit less basic.

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Whatever, Y.O.L.O., Crocs

Typically you travel to a place, observe the clothing, think “cool” or “weird” or whatever you think, and then you get on a plane and go home. Besides the fact that I still haven’t gotten on a plane and gone home, I’ve also thought “hmm, that makes a lot more sense than what I’m wearing right now.” And so I started wearing… (In order of my decision to start wearing them)
Sombrero and Man Purse
Sombrero – Month 3
This was an awesome unexpected gift from my host dad. I’d say in a store, it would have cost about $70 which is a pretty legit sombrero. Sombreros are pretty popular in many formal events such as dances, work meetings, etc. and I’ve used it on many occasions. Also important is the fact that I have a huge head and I’ve avoided hats in the states almost completely. However, this sombrero was custom made, as are all sombreros, and fit me perfectly.
 

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[Insert Job Description Here]

During training, we are told, “your service is what you make of it.” If you want to be out of site all the time, hanging out at the bar, sure, you can do that. Or you can make something amazing of it. To remove any doubts that last sentence might have created; almost all volunteers opt for the latter.
I opted for the latter as well and there are days where I’m out and about in Panama, living another day of my Peace Corps service, and it will dawn on me that, I get paid (as little as I do get paid haha) to be doing what I’m doing. I had one of those moments today when I was in the middle of the jungle hiking up to a water source. A fellow volunteer, in a different sector than water systems asked if I could come and take a look at his system. After that simple interaction, I was now out hiking with him in his community, which is about twenty times larger than mine, to offer what experience and knowledge I have to help assess the water issues being faced by the community. I’m going on a tangent too far, let’s steer this back in with some pictures of where I was working today:
Crossing a stream on the way to the water system.

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