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.
From there, we planned to spend a week together in the huge, multi-cultural and ancient city of Istanbul
after 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.
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 My previously approved plans have been rescinded by the PC and I am only 12 days away from our scheduled family meeting.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.