Friday, August 29, 2014

It's Raining, It's Pouring

            The old man is snoring… like I was this morning.  It’s so hard to get out of bed when it’s pouring outside, right?  Especially in my apartment, though.  I have a tin roof and my bedroom window doesn’t close, so there’s a steady pattering (sometimes splattering or pounding) on the roof and the papaya trees outside.  It’s a lovely sound, especially when I’m just lying in bed with the fan and a sheet on me.  Mmmm love it J  

Then BAH!  Peace Corps sent a mass text to all volunteers at 5:45am, saying the email system was back up and running.  Excuse me.  Unless there’s a typhoon about to tear through my town, do NOT text me until at least 7am.  Unlike Filipinos who wake up at 4am to do their laundry, I’d say most of us teachers aren’t up until at least 6:30.  And for the PCVs who work with the fishermen or community organizations, many sleep until 8.  Peace Corps has been in the Philippines for 53 years.  The office should know by now that many of us are not on a rise-before-butt-crack-of-dawn schedule.  Cultural thing. 
                Luckily, this little aspect is almost past me!  27 days before I ring the bell and close my service!  It’s so crazy and weird to think about.  This month has been the month of wrapping up my projects.  The first week of August I was asked to attend the Close of Service conference for the batch of volunteers who began after mine.  A fellow extendee and I prepared and facilitated a three-hour session for the PCVs who have decided to extend for a third year like we did.  Peace Corps requested that the two of us run the session in order to prepare them for the unique experiences and challenges that they are going to face during the next year. 
                I have to say, I’m really glad I was able to be there and support them.  I feel like I got a lot out of it, as well.  I was able to share my insight and perspective on what a third year entails.  Honestly, the third year was the most difficult for me.  However, it was also the most rewarding.  (If one of you 271 extendees is reading this, don’t let this freak you out!  You will be SO thankful for this experience, even if it is super difficult at times!  I promise.)  I know I talked about this briefly in last month’s post, but I want to go into it a little more.  The difficult part of my extension was that the majority of my batch mates left.  Yes, I’m still close friends with my fellow extendees, but there are some really special friends that I miss ALL the time. 
One of the most important things in any relationship, I feel, is communication.  Whether it’s a friend, family member, significant other, coworker, or anyone, good communication is essential to fostering a good relationship.  And when my friends were all here during the first two years of my service, we were all just a quick text away.  We shared EVERYTHING.  They have become family.  Being away from home and my biological family has always been really difficult for me, but they made it a lot easier.  So with them gone, it has been (and to this day, still is) a challenge.  I only get to talk to them once or twice a week, like with my family, which stinks.  I mean, it makes me appreciate those phone calls, emails and messages a lot more, but it’d be really nice if we were all on the same side of the world in similar time zones. 
I’d say that has been the overarching challenge of my service.  Every other challenge is the same as always.  However, as I said, my third year was also the most rewarding year.  I’ve been able to see the fruits of my labor.  I was able to finish my projects more thoroughly and with more attention than I would’ve by the end of two years.  I would have had to throw them together at the end.  But this way, I was able to take more time and do a much better job on them.  Because of this, I believe some of my projects have more of a chance of being sustainable after I leave.  Also I was able to facilitate at events like Padayon Mindanao literacy summits and youth camps last August to November.  I was also asked to help at four Peace Corps training events throughout the year, as a resource volunteer.  In addition, my friend and I were able to put on three Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) camps!  These things have all provided me with more professional experience that I can take with me after Peace Corps.  Other than work-wise, I was able to meet and become friends with a lot of other PCVs in the other two batches here.  It has been great, because I hadn’t really reached out to any of them before, but now I consider a bunch of them pretty good friends!  In addition, I feel much closer to my community.  I know more people, and my relationships with those people have grown.  It’s a really special feeling, the feeling of belonging.  And this third year has made me feel this way more than before, because people see that I’m not just fulfilling a requirement of two years.  I CHOSE to stay longer, and that has meant a lot to many people I know here.
Anyways, I’m going to sign off here… it’s time to write my Description of Service (DOS).  I’m pretty intimidated by it—it’s supposed to be two pages max, summing up my service in narrative form.  How I’m supposed to do that, I don’t know.  But now that my projects are all finished, it’s time to GIT ‘ER DONE!  Next time I blog will be the last time as a Peace Corps Volunteer!  Whoaaa!


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