So much for a weekly blog entry…that’s too much work. Plus, the lack of anything exciting to report on makes blog writing real boring. Training has been getting a little old. We sit in a classroom, listen to people talk, blah, blah, blah. The excitement was resurrected, however, on Friday, June 13th. This was the day that’s been the number one topic of discussion. The day that confirmed our premonitions and expelled all doubt. This was the day we’ve been waiting for since we got here. Site Assignment day.
That morning, we arrived at training, and everyone was on edge. After a morning lecture, we all waited anxiously for the big reveal. Because this is Peace Corps and nothing can be easy, we had to play Pictionary to find out or sites. Staff had hung a giant map of Guyana on the wall with sticky notes on it. Under the sticky note was a picture of the volunteer at the site and a brief job description. We formed teams, and if we guessed the word that was being drawn, the artist got to pull a sticky off the map. After about an hour and a half, all the stickies had been pulled off the map and the sites were revealed. New Amsterdam it is!
New Amsterdam is a busy city with about 30,000 people, and depending on the source, is the third largest city in Guyana. Although 30,000 people doesn’t sound like a lot, remember that there are only about 790,000 people in the whole country. My job description is a little nontraditional because I will not be working at a health center, but rather, teaching nutrition and computer classes at the nursing college. More to come on that later.
Once site assignment day was over, everyone could breathe a little. We all went to a local bar to celebrate with a couple beers and talk about our sites. The next day was Saturday, and because this was one of the last weekends with my current host family, my host sister arranged a “fishing trip”. This turned out to be an awesome expedition through the South American jungle to a secluded clearing with a swimming hole and fishing pond. SO COOL. If anyone wants to come visit, we can probably arrange this. After super fun day, we headed home and it was packing time.
The following week was very busy because we had our “Counterpart Conference”, and site visit. A counterpart is a person (usually a supervisor or coworker) who will be a resource at work, as well as in the community. The conference was designed to allow us to meet our counterparts and go over expectations and potential work schedules. We then left for a three-night site visit starting on Thursday.
Because of all this craziness, all the trainees stayed at a hotel in Georgetown from Sunday to Thursday. Peace Corps picked us all up on Sunday morning, dropped us off at the hotel, and told us we couldn’t leave. I’m not quite sure what Peace Corps thought we would do with all this free time, but we did the only thing there was to do with an entire free afternoon…go to the pool and drink. Real World Peace Corps edition was in full effect. As much fun as this was, the next day was not quite so fun, but we all managed to pull through. Tuesday and Wednesday were counterpart conference, and I am happy to say my counterpart is very nice and helpful! Thursday, we left for site. Details coming in part two of this post!
A side note…unfortunately, we lost two of our trainees on Tuesday. Peace Corps is hard, and nobody will make it without help. I know it’s unrealistic to expect that people won’t go home early, but it still sucks. For those of you in the U.S., please don’t forget about us! Kristin and Rob: you will be missed.