Soo I realize I kinda suck at writing regular blog entries. What can I say…writing isn’t really one of my strong suits. Anyway…back to it.
July 3rd was the big day…swearing in! 32 of us took the oath and swore in as Peace Corps Volunteers. This was a big event, and the Ministries of Health and Education, as well as the U.S. Ambassador and all the news crews, were there. I didn’t fully realize what a big deal we were until I saw how many important people came to this event. I feel so special! For anyone who missed this on FB, here is the link to a newspaper article.
The next day, after a night full of (crazy) celebrations, we headed off to site. And here I am! All moved into my new house! As I said before, my site is in New Amsterdam. I live in a two-bedroom house that’s right in the center of town. If I walk three minutes in either direction down my street, I hit a supermarket. I have wifi, electricity and running water. Basically…Posh Corps. I do not, however, have a washing machine, so I feel like I spend copious amounts of time doing laundry. On the plus side, if I am ever really bored, I can always do more laundry! The other great part about living in this area is that there are multiple other volunteers in close proximity, including one who lives in walking distance! So my American friends are never too far away.
My primary work assignment is at the New Amsterdam School of Nursing. I am primarily going to be teaching nutrition, but I will also be doing an ICT and research class, and potentially teaching a few lectures in anatomy. I think it’s going to be a pretty fun job. I spent the first few weeks getting my lectures together, and I started teaching my nutrition class on Monday. At first, I was a little intimidated by the students, but it didn’t take long at all for me to relax and get down to business. And so far, I actually really enjoy teaching! The school has 200+ students and only two full time faculty members, so they could use all the help they can get. I also like that the school is like a little community in itself. Tomorrow is “sports day”, which will be a nice time to just hang out and get to know everyone.
As far as the community itself goes, I am already seeing many opportunities that I can get involved with. I will be co-teaching a fitness class at a church and may start teaching beginner swim lessons, the hospital could really use a dietitian, and the health center is a good place to address chronic disease and teen pregnancy. Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode thinking about all areas that could use help, but I’m trying to just take it one step at a time. I’ve also been meeting a lot of people, which is really nice. I play soccer with the kids down the street, my neighbor once worked at the nursing school (and gives me breadfruit off her tree which is delicious), and I buy produce from the same guy at the market on Saturdays. I can only imagine all the people I’ll meet by the time service is over!
So far, I feel like I’m integrating into the culture relatively successfully. That being said, everything has not been easy. I knew that moving to another country and fitting into the culture would be hard, but living it and knowing are two different things. Although there are many things I struggle with, I feel like I have learned so much, and I’ve been in country less than three months. Thank goodness I have a wonderful group of fellow volunteers and PC staff to support me (And the support of those of you at home helps too!). I’ve got two whole years ahead of me, and I’m ready to march forward and do what I came here to do: make a difference.