Crunchy numbers – A statistical summary from 27 August, 2011 until 13 January, 2014

This Blog began as I approached Staging for my Peace Corps service and has concluded with the previous Blog regarding my Close of Service and repatriation to the United States.

This statistical wrap-up will be my final post for this Blog.

In 2013, there were 20 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 33 posts. There were 214 new pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 56 MB.

The busiest day of the two years was August 16 2012 with 101 visits for “Then, one day .  .”.

There were 4,340 visits to my Blog from 92 countries in 2013.

Adding the statistics from 2012 yields a 2 year total of 7,731 visitors.

Most visitors came from The United States (All 50).

Current Country Totals
From 27 Aug 2011 to 13 Jan 2014

United States (US) 2,238
Pennsylvania (PA) 426
California (CA) 322
Virginia (VA) 144
Florida (FL) 117
New York (NY) 93
New Jersey (NJ) 88
Texas (TX) 86
Illinois (IL) 78
Washington (WA) 78
Ohio (OH) 71
Indiana (IN) 64
Arizona (AZ) 53
Massachusetts (MA) 50
Michigan (MI) 47
Georgia (GA) 36
Colorado (CO) 34
Maryland (MD) 33
North Carolina (NC) 32
District of Columbia (DC) 28
Minnesota (MN) 23
Connecticut (CT) 23
Kentucky (KY) 20
Oregon (OR) 18
Tennessee (TN) 17
Wisconsin (WI) 15
Missouri (MO) 15
Kansas (KS) 13
South Carolina (SC) 12
Oklahoma (OK) 11
Louisiana (LA) 11
Iowa (IA) 11
Nevada (NV) 10
Alabama (AL) 9
New Mexico (NM) 9
New Hampshire (NH) 9
Hawaii (HI) 8
Utah (UT) 8
Vermont (VT) 6
Mississippi (MS) 6
Maine (ME) 5
Wyoming (WY) 5
Arkansas (AR) 4
Armed Forces Europe, Middle East, & Canada (AE) 4
Rhode Island (RI) 4
Montana (MT) 3
Alaska (AK) 3
Nebraska (NE) 3
West Virginia (WV) 3
Delaware (DE) 3
Idaho (ID) 3
North Dakota (ND) 1
Not specified
63

The majority of those were quite likely people considering, or already applying to serve in the Peace Corps.

Macedonia and The United Kingdom were not far behind.

Macedonia (MK) 794
United Kingdom (GB) 215
Canada (CA) 142
Australia (AU) 117
Germany (DE) 71
Switzerland (CH) 44
Philippines (PH) 37
India (IN) 36
France (FR) 26
Mexico (MX) 25
Greece (GR) 25
Netherlands (NL) 25
Bulgaria (BG) 24
Sweden (SE) 24
South Africa (ZA) 23
Ireland (IE) 22
Austria (AT) 21
Italy (IT) 21
Malaysia (MY) 20
Singapore (SG) 18
Serbia (RS) 17
Turkey (TR) 15
Hong Kong (HK) 15
Denmark (DK) 14
Belgium (BE) 14
Albania (AL) 14
Rwanda (RW) 13
New Zealand (NZ) 13
Poland (PL) 12
Azerbaijan (AZ) 12
Slovenia (SI) 11
Ukraine (UA) 10
Norway (NO) 10
Spain (ES) 10
Japan (JP) 10
Ecuador (EC) 9
Guatemala (GT) 8
Russian Federation (RU) 8
Romania (RO) 7
Thailand (TH) 7
Brazil (BR) 7
Hungary (HU) 7
Pakistan (PK) 6
Croatia (HR) 6
Nicaragua (NI) 5
Indonesia (ID) 5
Korea, Republic of (KR) 5
Portugal (PT) 5
Puerto Rico (PR) 4
Czech Republic (CZ) 4
Finland (FI) 4
Vietnam (VN) 4
Israel (IL) 3
Georgia (GE) 3
Costa Rica (CR) 3
Tanzania, United Republic of (TZ) 3
Ghana (GH) 3
Jordan (JO) 3
Taiwan (TW) 3
Saudi Arabia (SA) 3
Estonia (EE) 3
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BA) 3
United Arab Emirates (AE) 3
Virgin Islands, U.S. (VI) 2
Kyrgyzstan (KG) 2
Haiti (HT) 2
Kenya (KE) 2
Kuwait (KW) 2
Colombia (CO) 2
Venezuela (VE) 2
Peru (PE) 2
Latvia (LV) 2
Samoa (WS) 2
Barbados (BB) 2
Malta (MT) 2
Mongolia (MN) 2
Egypt (EG) 2
Paraguay (PY) 2
Cyprus (CY) 2
Mauritius (MU) 2
Madagascar (MG) 1
Lesotho (LS) 1
Cook Islands (CK) 1
Slovakia (SK) 1
Netherlands Antilles (AN) 1
Bahamas (BS) 1
China (CN) 1
Nepal (NP) 1
Aruba (AW) 1
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (VC) 1
Myanmar (MM) 1
Sudan (SD) 1
Belize (BZ) 1
Dominican Republic (DO) 1
Lebanon (LB) 1
Tunisia (TN) 1
Armenia (AM) 1
Trinidad and Tobago (TT) 1
Marshall Islands (MH) 1
Montenegro (ME) 1
Senegal (SN) 1
Burkina Faso (BF) 1
Syrian Arab Republic (SY) 1
Asia/Pacific Region (AP) 1
Gibraltar (GI) 1
Cameroon (CM) 1

I imagine that those from Macedonia were among my cohort, my Macedonian friends and possibly some Peace Corps staff.

To everyone who visited this Blog, I wish you every success in all of your future endeavors!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PCA – PCN – PCI – PCT – PCV – COS – RPCV

From submission of formal Application to “Returned PCV” status; What an experience!

I remember the moment when, as a freshman at Penn State in 1961, I saw the first recruiting posters displayed by the Peace Corps. I began to think of living and working in a foreign country. In the years after college, I met some people who had served in the Peace Corps during those early years and I was filled with renewed aspirations of serving. Many times, life itself just kept getting in the way, but the desire became a dream.

So, I had gone from college, through a career & marriage, helping to raise children and then I finally retired.  I Then decided to act, at last, to fulfill my life-long dream of serving in the Peace Corps and embarked upon a journey that began as a Peace Corps Applicant. After the application and interviewing phase, I was nominated for consideration to serve and I spent several months as a Peace Corps Nominee. When all medical, dental, visual exams and legal paperwork had been completed and approved I became a Peace Corps Invitee. That had been a year-long process and I still faced waiting several months to depart for training. After a Staging meeting of all PCIs who would serve together in South Eastern Europe, we flew to Macedonia to begin 11 weeks of indoctrination and language instruction as Peace Corps Trainees. Upon completion of that process, we were sworn in by the US Ambassador to Macedonia and we became Peace Corps Volunteers.

"MAK16" The entire cohort comprising the 16th group of volunteers to serve in Macedonia.

“MAK16″ The entire cohort comprising the 16th group of volunteers to serve in Macedonia. – November 23, 2011

We were formally sworn in by the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia.

We were formally sworn in by the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia.

I was assigned to live and work in the Town of Negotino where I would be a Community Development Consultant assigned to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with the mission of assisting to get people with intellectual impairments out of Government-run institutions and help them to live within and become integrated into all social spheres of the broader community. I was to assist the NGO to expand its capacity and to develop sustainable service programs to meet its mission.

Last October (10/22/2013), I had a long and emotional day. The staff surprised me by asking me to come to the multi-purpose room.

All of the beneficiaries were there waiting for me.

All of the beneficiaries were there waiting for me.

They started the meeting by asking me what was special about today. When I said I did not know, they announced, in unison that it was my “going home to America party” day.

They had been rehearsed by the staff to each take a turn telling me what they remembered most about me. Some of it was hilarious and all of it was emotional. What I liked most was that almost all of them thanked me for establishing the Sport & Exercise Program for them. They presented me with a beautiful print they had all helped to make.

_DSC0012It was made using finger prints from each of them on which their names were inscribed.

The logo of the NGO (PORAA NEGOTINO) was encircled with the fingerprints of the beneficiaries.

The logo of the NGO (PORAKA NEGOTINO) was encircled with the fingerprints of the beneficiaries.

The inscription on the print reads (using my limited Macedonian language skills):

“The passage of good time is not measured in seconds,

but with the moments that are filled with happiness and joyous smiles!”

They were surprised when I asked them what the next day would be and they said “no work” (holiday)! However, I announced it will be my birthday and I handed out chocolates and other sweets as is the Macedonian tradition. They were pleasantly surprised and sang ‘Happy Birthday” in both Macedonian and English. This was the third birthday I had celebrated in Macedonia and this one was my 70th.

The beneficiaries gathered around me and sang Happy Birthday in both Macedonian and English.

The beneficiaries gathered around me and sang Happy Birthday in both Macedonian and English.

Then, after I thought it was all done, I was informed that the President of the NGO wanted a group photo with me and the beneficiaries.

The staff assembled in front of the NGO Daily Center and I joined them for a final group photo.

The beneficiaries assembled in front of the NGO Daily Center and I joined them for a final group photo.

When I went for the group photo, they had prepared a pizza lunch complete with wine from Serbia.

They had prepared a pizza party complete with wine from Serbia.

They had prepared a pizza party complete with wine from Serbia.

What a challenge trying to be appreciative and say a small thank you / farewell speech in Macedonian! They presented me with a framed silver butterfly, which is among the treasured national symbols of Macedonia.

Handmade silver and turquoise brooch from the 19th century.

Handmade silver and turquoise brooch from the 19th century.

Then, I returned for the evening exercise and sport program after which I stopped at one of my favorite cafes to say goodbye to the wait staff and then I went to one of the group homes at 7PM for a ‘special’ dinner prepared by the beneficiaries.

We gathered in one of the group homes for a family style dinner

We gathered in one of the group homes for a family style dinner

For the following few days, I walked all over town saying goodbye to everyone I knew.

I was lucky to have met and been friends with people with all sorts of backgrounds, including one widow who was now living in a nursing home and had no visitors. I had visited her occasionally during my two years of service.

I had a final visit at the only nursing  home in Negotino with Renatta, whom I had n=met the year before. We had fun mixing our sentences with Macedonian, German and English.

I had a final visit at the only nursing home in Negotino with Renatta, whom I had met the year before. We had fun mixing our Macedonian, German and English in the same sentences.

One of the most poignant goodbyes was with Јован (Jovan), the trash picker in Negotino whom nobody seemed to give the time of day.

Јован (Jovan) was the trash picker in Negotino. I met him because of the dogs that followed him in response to his voice., and they were not his dogs, but seemed attached to him because he was so kind.

Јован (Jovan) was the trash picker in Negotino. I met him because of the two dogs that followed him on his rounds in response to his voice., and they were not his dogs, but seemed attached to him because he was so kind. He always seemed delighted that I greeted and spoke with him.

After I left, I heard from the parents of two of my favorite children in Negotino.

I was told that this was their response after being told that I had returned to the United States.

I was told that this was their response after being told that I had returned to the United States.

Now, after two years of living and working in that community, my PC service has come to an end.

What a day!

What a way to wrap up 27 months of Peace Corps service in Macedonia!

My primary life-long dream has been fulfilled and at this point, I am no longer asking myself, “Have I accomplished all that I always wanted to do?” My future has just been significantly reshaped by many wonderful people and countless meaningful experiences.

At our COS (Close of Service) Conference, our last time together as a group. - August 16, 2013

At our COS (Close of Service) Conference, our last time together as a group. – August 16, 2013

I completed the mountain of reports and PC paperwork to put closure on my service and I also had to bring closure to the myriad friendships and significant working relationships I had developed. I returned to the States for repatriation as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV). I am, once again, retired.

I am not done, and retirement is no longer appearing to be a void to be filled with hobbies.

Now, at age 70, I am once again eagerly looking toward some more significant uses of my time.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I won the Peace Corps Lottery! – – – THREE TIMES!

Three and a half years ago I applied to serve in the Peace Corps. This was something I have wanted to do since seeing their first recruiting posters when I was a freshman at Penn State in 1961. First, I had to complete my undergraduate studies and during those years and the many subsequent ones, ‘life got in the way.’ During the two decades after seeing that recruiting poster, I met several RPCVs and learned from their experiences that serving in the Peace Corps would be an even better experience than I had imagined. So, almost twenty after seeing that poster and in the first year of my marriage, my wife and I initiated joint applications. However, life got in the way once again as we soon learned that we were expecting our first child. Back then, the PC actually told us that we could take an infant into service with us. We chose not to do so. And pushed our plans to the back burner for when the children were on their own and we would have the time in retirement to pursue the PC service.

My retirement came before my wife’s and with no specific plans for my retirement, my wife suggested that I just go ahead and join the PC while she continued to work toward her retirement.  We reasoned that, after all, she had worked for nearly a year in Germany only a few years ago while I remained at my job in the States. That had gone okay for us, so if I enjoyed my service in the PC, we could apply together after I return and she has retired. Then, we could serve together.

So, I applied, jumped through all of the hoops thrown at me by the PC application process and was nominated by a recruiter to serve in Central or South America. After an anxiety filled wait of a year, I received a formal invitation to serve in Eastern Europe. A win!

My official acceptance appeared on the PC web site for applicants.

My official acceptance appeared on the PC web site for applicants.

My assignment would be for community Development with an NGO in Macedonia. If the Peace Corps had a lottery for awarding placement assignments, I was sure that I would a winner with my assignment to Macedonia.

The 'Big Blue packet' with my official invitation to serve in Macedonia arrived in the mail..

The ‘Big Blue packet’ with my official invitation to serve in Macedonia arrived in the mail.

From the day of arrival, through PST (Pre-Service Training) and the wonderful experience I had living with my host family in Kratovo, which in itself was a fantastic small town, I knew I was in for a rewarding experience.

This is the home of a wonderful family that hosts PCVs every year during the 10 week training period.

This is the home of a wonderful family that hosts PCVs every year during the 10 week training period.

After PST the temporary home stay family in whose home I lived in Negotino until my apartment became available, continued to make me feel certain that I had won the Peace Corps lottery.

Breakfast with my home stay family.

Breakfast with my home stay family.

The country has beautiful variations in topography, located in the heart of the Balkans which offers a great starting point for many varied destinations during vacation trips. The Macedonians are very sociable, ‘other’ oriented, welcoming, very friendly and non-materialistic. For my first month at my assigned site, I stayed with another host family. This proved to be a good challenge for me because they spoke no English, so my beginner level Macedonian forced me to not only study the language harder, but it also helped me develop keener non-verbal charades type actions to converse with them.

 When I finally moved into my apartment where I would live throughout my two years of service, I was once again struck with the feeling that I had won a Peace Corps lottery. I have almost as much living space as I had in my town home back in the States. I am on the 4th floor with a lovely eastward view over the town of Negotino. I get to see the sunrise each morning and, when it rains and the sun breaks out afterward, I always get to see beautiful rainbows because the sun will always be shining from the west toward my eastern view. The apartment is far nicer than what living arrangements most PCVs have anywhere else in the world. Another win!

My apartment in Negotino. This is one of the few apartment assignment remaining because the Peace Corps here in Macedonia is now having ALL volunteers live with home stay families.

My apartment in Negotino. This is one of the few apartment assignment remaining because the Peace Corps here in Macedonia is now having ALL volunteers live with home stay families.

Along with all of the other PCVs in my cohort, I have recently completed our Close of Service Conference. During the conference, the PC actually did hold a lottery. In this case, it was to determine the exact departure dates at the conclusion of our service. The PC in this country tries to even out the workload for the office staff regarding holding closure interviews with each PCV, Completing medical exams for us all, processing all of the paperwork and confirming the return of all PC property that had been issued during PST and the months following swearing in. This became the third time that I felt that I won a Peace Corps lottery for I obtained one of the earliest departure dates available. I will depart Macedonia on November 1st, well ahead of the official departure date of November 23rd that is categorically assigned to all of us based upon the date when we were sworn in back in 2011. Yet another win!

My name was chosen early in the lottery process and I was able to reserve one of the earliest departure dates available.

My name was chosen early in the lottery process and I was able to reserve one of the earliest departure dates available.

 36 volunteers came to Macedonia on September 11th, 2011. 31 of us completed our two years of service.

36 volunteers came to Macedonia on September 11th, 2011. 31 of us completed our two years of service.

I came into the Peace Corps as a winner, lived life in Macedonia as a winner and I am returning to the States as a winner.

THAT is difficult to beat!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Like a good book, or . . .

As in any relationship, life in the Peace Corps follows a definite process. Everything has a beginning, middle and an end. We can ignore the process, but we cannot escape experiencing it. Conversely, we can acknowledge it, and in so doing relish each stage to its fullest extent.

I began my service full of eager anticipation for what was about to unfold. The first chapter of my PC commitment consisted of the first orientation week and then two months of training. It was a great beginning in which we each became familiar with the characters and the central plot, along with awareness that numerous sub-plots would unfold. The beginning stage of PC life teased us with glimpses into the workings of this world-wide program and the basics of the culture into which we were about to be thrust. This included acquiring functional use of a new language complete with an entirely foreign alphabet; some of us did this with two languages and two new cultures simultaneously. Facing, and mastering, the challenges at this stage caused us to develop a great sense of identity with our new culture and host country national friends.

After we were sworn in and moved to various locations around the country, we began our immersion in our newly adopted culture. Some of us in Macedonia lived with host families, while others lived in private accommodations with varying degrees of creature comfort. Our common experiences would revolve around our places within the communities to which we were assigned. The middle of this book became our personal experiences and what we could, or could not do with our aspirations and personal/professional skills. As we lived and worked our ways through, we each began to develop either a growing affinity, or a distancing from our new cultural world. Like an engrossing book, we began to approach the unfolding of the plot of our experiences with true enjoyment.

Then, there comes that moment when we realize there will be an end to what we are experiencing. We begin to either avoid looking ahead, or we begin to make adjustments according to our expectations. We either hope that the saga will shift and we can continue to enjoy it all, or we begin to mentally prepare for the closure of relationships and activities, and try to focus on what new beginnings we might establish. As I anticipate our COS (Closure of Service) Conference next month, I recognize that I am full of mixed emotions. I feel that throughout the middle part of my service I have increasingly become more personally connected and effective in what I try to accomplish with all of the host country nationals. I have also begun to experience friendships with HCNs and PCVs in ways that I have rarely done in the past. In this regard I’m unable to steel myself against the rapidly approaching close of my service. I do not want to stop what I have been developing and experiencing. Nor can I imagine changing the relationships I have established and have come to treasure every bit as much as relationships in my life before Peace Corps.

For some, extending their service might serve as a sequel, but that, too, will have its own beginning, middle and end. That will be compressed because the extension will not match the previous 27 months in time, or in depth of development. Most of it will merely be a continuation of the same with little in the way of additional new experiences. The rewards will be considerably less than those already experienced. The cost-benefit scale of time spent and benefits gained will tip strongly toward little gained at great expense. Careers will be delayed. Relationships with those back in the States will be strained even further. Therefore, as I have frequently anguished about whether to extend, I must lean toward accepting that this book is about to end. Now I must work toward closure with everyone, especially those who have become so dear to me. It is difficult to acknowledge this, but I know I must.

I will have to seek a new book to engross me; finding one equal to this experience will be difficult.

I will never forget this book/chapter as one of the best ever in my life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It goes with the territory

In the Peace Corps, this means that no matter where you are and no matter what your status is with the PC (PCA, PCI, PCT, or PCV), you are subject to things happening beyond your control. Of course, you start learning this as soon as you submit an application to serve in the PC. You get told certain timelines for the application, acceptance and placement process and then things change. You get nominated by a recruiter for specific service sectors and geographic regions, and then things change. It goes on and on. Even late in your service it happens. This is a fact of life with the Peace Corps and one of the reasons that recruiters and placement officers often ask how flexible you think you are. All of us experience those unanticipated twists and turns at one time or another and in one way or another. The latest surprise that the PC has thrown at me is a retraction of previous approvals for my plans to travel in Turkey.
Approximately six months ago, as I began my second year of service, my family and I began planning a get together. We discussed meeting somewhere and traveling together for a few days/weeks. Our son-in-law could not comfortably be away from his residency during the time we were looking at and our daughter decided to not travel without him. So, my wife, our son and his wife began making plans with me to meet at Ataturk Airport, Istanbul.

airport_Istanbul

From there, we planned to spend a week together in the huge, multi-cultural and ancient city of Istanbul

Istanbul-Turkeyafter which our son and his wife would return to the States. My wife and I planned to travel south into Turkey and spend another week in the area known as Cappadocia. This rocky landscape is honeycombed with networks of ancient underground settlements and outstanding examples of Byzantine art.

Cappadocia-Turkey This was to be our 34th wedding anniversary present to ourselves.

Those were our plans. The recent and on-going violent demonstrations in Istanbul, Ankara and some other cities in Turkey have caused the Peace Corps to ban all PCVs from traveling in Turkey. My previously approved plans have been rescinded by the PC and I am only 12 days away from our scheduled family meeting.

Traveling while in the Peace Corps is no walk in the park. PCVs should not make any travel plans without prior approval by the PC because if the PC does not approve the requested time off, and any plans have been made, they have to be canceled. I obtained all the necessary approvals well in advance. All of our reservations were made and paid for a while ago and we were all comfortably counting down the days until we will meet. Instead of a comfortable relaxing few days for leisurely packing, we are faced with short notice to cancel many reservations and attempt to agree upon alternate plans AND make affordable reservations. This impact on my family is causing them considerable resentment. It is causing me to have to work through my frustration and resultant anger. We must all now focus on last minute planning when we had done all of our planning well in advance.

- It goes with the territory.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Peace Corps Service is a 24/7 commitment, and it’s not all that bad.

The Peace Corps told us on the day we assembled in Philadelphia to depart from the States to begin our service and repeatedly on many occasions since then, that we are expected to work 24/7. This means that when not doing the actual physical/mental work assignments we are given (Peace Corps’ 1st Goal), which here in Macedonia is either Teaching English as a foreign language, or Organizational / Community Development, we are expected to be an active member of our assigned living site. As such, we are expected to be actively involved with the people in our assigned community at all times for cultural exchange activities (Peace Corps’ 2nd Goal). We are allowed some planned vacation time as well as occasional personal days to get away from out assigned site and enjoy a little R & R.

With the current holiday break from my assigned work site, I took two personal days to do some tourist type sight seeing in and around Skopje. I came home to Negotino last evening with nothing planned for today, (Orthodox) Easter Sunday. I decided to create an Easter activity; a visit to Renatta in the Дом Жана retirement home, the only one in this region of Macedonia.

Дом Жана, a retirement home in this region of Macedonia.

Дом Жана, a retirement home in this region of Macedonia.

Renatta is the woman I met when our NGO put on a Christmas play and sang songs with the pensioner residents in the retirement home a few months ago during the Christmas holidays. She and I had fun at that time speaking German, English and Macedonian. I remembered her and decided to visit her because she has no family visiting her. It took all of my limited Macedonian to explain to the retirement home staff that I wanted to visit with a woman I had met at Christmas, but could not remember her name. I guess I described her well enough, because one of the staff led me to the third floor and into a room, where we interrupted her nap. I was relieved that is was the woman I hoped to visit.  “Everyone is dead,” she told me, except for her invalid sister who cannot travel to visit and her son who lives in Austria. Coincidentally, I learned that his name is Lewis, also, but I believe it is spelled differently. Despite sharing abilities in 3 languages, we hit occasionally snags in our conversations, whereupon we begin to giggle and laugh and forget to finish that part of our conversation. When we were chatting about the years she was lived and worked in Germany, the subject of the Rhine River crises came up. She said she remembered the famous song about a very popular German folk tale, “die Lorelei,” and she began to sing it. I joined her and after the second verse, she began to appear to forget some of the lyrics, but not the music, which she hummed. However, I knew the words and continued singing, whereupon she would pick up at places she remembered. After the fourth and final verse, she laughed and exclaimed how much she enjoyed that, especially when I was able to help he recall all of the lyrics. She then became even more conversant about her background and family and asked me more questions about myself and my life in America. I gave her a box of chocolates I had brought as an Easter present. She exclaimed that they were her “favorite.” I saw through this and realized that she still had considerable social awareness and was simply be gracious. We chatted some more and I took a picture for both of us.

We had a fun visit this sunny and hot Easter afternoon.

We had a fun visit this sunny and hot Easter afternoon.

We ended our visit talking about perhaps having more visits. I will have to visit her there, because she does not go out anymore, not even to stroll in the town.

She thanked me profusely for visiting. On my way out of the home, the staff also thanked me for visiting.  I did not notice any other visitors with any other resident during my time there.

All in all, a wonderful Easter afternoon, expanding a new friendship and nailing Goal #2.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Should you volunteer overseas?

Three years ago I was searching the Internet looking for information related to my lifelong desire to join the Peace Corps. I was also reading anything I could find regarding life as an ex-patriot volunteering overseas. Perhaps you have been going through a similar process when you came upon this blog. If so, you might find the following helpful. If not, you still might find this interesting, if only to confirm your own feelings about living and working overseas.

This is a deceptively easy infographic to use. It can help you decide if volunteering overseas is for you and, if so, in what manner should you be considering doing so.

This is from - – – http://www.globalcitizen.org 

Volunteering overseas to support development projects can be a life-changing experience, and can add value in supporting local communities to build capacity and overcome poverty. It’s a great way of contributing your skills and passion to helping, but in considering how to do it, there are several questions that you should consider.

Infograph 

The infographic above outlines key questions, and gives you a starting point to consider what sort of volunteering is best for you. We’ve provided a brief summary of each option, and next steps for you below.

Long placement. Peace Corps and VSO are the world leaders in long-placements, where you will spend at least year, and often two years, working inside a community, usually partnering closely with locals, and supporting them to build capacity. It’s a big ask of you – to uproot yourself for this long, but if you’re really going to apply your skills to a community, you need to take the time to understand it, make a contribution, and transfer your skills.

Short placement. For a first time visit, this is usually the best option to take – where you’ll stay around long enough to understand and adapt to the complexities of the local community, whilst also being able to contribute within a window of a couple of months that you might have over summer, after graduation, or between jobs. Approach your favourite charities to talk about options for short placements, or reach out to friends and family with existing strong connections to communities to understand whether and how you might be useful.

In & Out Trip. Use your skills and local knowledge to train locals, enable them to do things they otherwise couldn’t themselves, and build some great ongoing relationships. These trips tend to be anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks, and the longer you can spend there, usually, the more useful your contribution.

Immersion / Study Trip. If you’re short on time, an amazing way of understanding more about the progress and challenges of fightlng poverty is to go on a trip with a charity or community group (like your school or church) for 1-2 weeks. You’ll learn a huge amount, and the trip may well challenge your ideas of how you can help in the future, but you won’t help fight poverty directly, except by spending money in communities.

Don’t Volunteer. It might sound harsh, but if you’ve answered to all the questions, and arrived at this outcome, we seriously recommend that you don’t volunteer overseas. Instead, why not consider learning a language, volunteering locally with charity that works in development, or starting to build a relationship with a community by going on holiday to a developing country, and spending time learning.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment