Monday, May 31, 2010

Timeline: From California to Cameroon

Tommorow I say goodbye to my family & friends one last time and let this adventure begin! Tonight in Loma Linda, tommorow in Philadelphia, and the finally Yaounde Friday (how crazy to think by the end of this week i'll be in Africa!). There has been a lot of waiting, preparation, & paperwork to get to where I am. For my own personal record I thought I would take a few moments to jot down my timeline just to get to this point, and if your interested, to share it with you (whoever you may be) as well.

I first thought seriously of joining the Peace Corps in October/November of 2008. At the time in the middle of a desperate employment search. After working on my application and receiving my recommendation letters I was just about to hit the submit button when I received news of my acceptance into an internship in Berlin. When I returned end of April, even though I had a brief employment search in Washington DC and temporary work here in Redlands, I knew that Peace Corps was meant to be. I never wanted to wonder what if. (My submission on June 4 is coincidentally the same day I will be landing in Cameroon). Next came an interview, an nomination for business advising in french-speaking sub-saharan leaving Feb 2010, a very intricate medical/dental clearance thanks in part to my recent "brain surgery" as it was classified (a.k.a sinus surgery), then waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Several attempts to receive possible news of a invitation always came back with a "you'll here next week." Thankfully by January I finally had my placement interview after my placement officer came back from sick leave. Then waiting. By end of January, finally was I told of my new placement officer, of my original program being cut in half, of my country, and of my departure in 4 months time. Now on the other side of those 4 months, I'm glad to say I've had that much more time to get ready, to hangout with friends/family more, and wake up in a comfy bed & with a hot shower!

These past few weeks i've gone through several, but mostly three, different moods. They shuffle between nostalgia/sadness for missing my friends/family, nervousness, and excitement. Now that tommorow is when I finally leave, the excitement is taking over. Excitment of something new, nervousness of not knowing what to expect. I wonder of what my first impressions will be, of how I will take the humidity, how I will adjust to the food, if I will luck out with a good host family, what my project will be, where I will end up in Cameroon after training, and a bunch of things that keep my mind wandering!

So as one timeline ends, another begins. Tommorow night I arrive in Philadelphia, then orientation with all the other volunteers Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning is vaccinations & a bus ride to JFK then a evening flight out to Cameroon via a stopover in Brussels. If you believe in prayer send one out for a safe journey! Next blog post will be from Africa!!! :D

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So the Peace Corps, eh?

So without further ado, let this blog begin! For better or for worse, here it goes. For those that may be reading this and have no idea as to the origins for its creation, I have been accepted into the Peace Corps (an American volunteer program run by the U.S. Government) and will leave June 1 for a 27 month adventure in Cameroon as a Small Business Advisor.

So the Peace Corps. When i've informed family & friends of this decision there have been many reactions. The two most common being either the comment "WOW, you are brave" or the question "why?". To the comment I say its a chance to make a difference, allow for a huge growth opportunity, experience a new culture, get out of my comfort zone, and well, frankly, to have the travel adventure of a lifetime :). I hope my answer to the question will be clear in spite of its conciseness. I've done crazier things, time wise at least. When I left for my internship in Berlin, I was accepted into it on a Friday and arrived in Berlin the following Friday. Except for bad luck with accomodations and a witchy landlady in my last apartment there, it was a fabulous experience! Yes I've lived in France for 8 months, but this by far is the biggest, longest, and farthest travel experience I have ever pursued. For the Peace Corps, I will be leaving a year to the day I applied last June. So I have had a full year to consider my decision, and the process of getting to where I am now was not the easiest. Patience truly is a virtue. Also, there were many volunteer projects I led out on in college (the biggest of them being a Zimbabwe fundraiser and creation of a Microfinance project for the School of Business) which put in my head the idea of what it would actually be like to live in a developing country. Coupled with my desire to on a professional level pursue Diplomacy and to avoid a 8 to 5 cubicle job, I figure I'm young...why not?

So with my Bon Voyage party last weekend, a weekend trip to Walla Walla, WA to my college town for my friend Megan's wedding coming up this weekend, and that fact that i'm already packed (yes, don't judge its true!)I'm going to sit back and enjoy my last two weeks with my family, friends, good food, and a good dose of American culture! Join me on this adventure? Stayed tuned for more...