Filtering, Heaven’s Reward Fallacy (Past Post) … That is what is going on in my head these days. What is happening in Mali has not even trickled down and affected me yet, but I am still worried about it. It has sent me in a dash to find all available back-up options… which is only making me more stressed as I realize I am qualified for almost zero placements. <— That is not distorted thinking, that is the truth. Not to mention, the opportunities I might be qualified for will have several hundred applicants more qualified than me.This explains why it’s so difficult, and its not the first time I have read these words.
I have to face the truth… Although I would be a great addition for any domestic job, I haven’t put in the time at the bottom. In college I worked hard in many avenues related to my degree (Psychology) and did well. However, since college I have roamed, and played, and spent all my time traveling. While I do not regret those experiences, it looks pretty flaky on my CV. Internationally, I know I would be a great asset but I don’t have any international experience and no one will pick me over John Smith with 5+ years doing relief work in third-world insert country here. See my dilemma??
Not to lessen Peace Corps, but this is why the organization is so fantastic! It takes 20-50 somethings and gives them a shot! You need minimal experience, but a whole lot of motivation, heart, and persistence - I surely have this – and they give you your chance! Peace Corps, for me, is a way to expand my skills and knowledge, learn cultures, grow as an independent woman and HELP THE WORLD! While also giving me the experience I need to obtain the before mentioned jobs — nothing is truly altruistic. Oh, and did I mention that I won’t have to pay for it??? It is so frustrating how many volunteer/intern positions there are out there that cost $4,000-$15,000 + for a basic 8 week program!
Now, family and friends don’t start getting concerned at my current psyche. I’m not trying to be dramatic, and I am not hopeless, just concerned. All I can do is put in the time and effort for God to open some doors and guide us through the right one. I just ask for your prayers that He’s with us on this one and we do what is right. Brett and I have decided that whatever happens, we are leaving the country July 1st. Hopefully with Peace Corps, but I am coming around the ideas of different options. Just the other day Brett found this PERFECT opening with Invisible Children… I would love to go to Uganda :)
Who knows what is going to happen over the next 59 days – All I know is that I am going to stay as prepared as possible for any and all outcomes. That is all I can do!
I don’t keep up with the news. I find its depressing and more times than not I shut it off because I don’t want to hear about all the “Explosions” “Terrorism” “Affairs” “Murder” “Kidnapping” “Neglect” … I like Happy News But that doesn’t really get you far. So honestly, I do stay uninformed…
That being said, I can’t stay away from the news right now!! Mali is always in the forefront of my mind and I between good blog updates and Washington Post , Huff Post , and other new media I can say I still have no definitive answers :( It’s a let down. That is how these things go.
A current PC Volunteer Jessica has the best update so far. We were told that PC volunteers would be going back to work today, it didn’t happen. In fact they have evacuated all the volunteers from their villages and have them in holding until the US makes a final decision. From what I have read all financial aid has been withdrawn from Mali across the scope and the US is the only country to still have humanitarian aid (although they aren’t allowed to work).
Its still a waiting game. Volunteers won’t go back to work until there is democratic stability… and with elections coming up at the end of April it could be a long time before that happens. In my opinion its still 50/50 . Luckily, the Coup hasn’t resorted to violence in the capitol, BUT the MNLA Tuaregs are taking this opportunity to advance South, which is not good.
Still, its the children and families that are really affected without foreign aid… and I feel like this whole thing has caused more harm than eventual good.
Of course, when I have answers I will post again… I assume it will be a couple of days/weeks before I hear anything.
Huff Post has released a story today about the current climate in Bamako, Mali. The training headquarters of PeacCorps in Mali. This is terrible news for all of us anxiously waiting to move there in June. Renegade Soldiers have announced a take over of the Malian government, seized control of the TV stations and Radios and have attacked the presidential palace.
I don’t know what this means for us yet, I have tried calling and sent some emails but chances are we won’t get a response for a couple of days. In the Facebook group for the volunteers waiting to leave, there is a guy who has contact with the director in Mali… he says its not looking good and that chances are we will be pushed back or moved all together. It really could swing either way at this point. Brett wants to figure out a back up plan because frankly he is tired of waiting to leave. I think it might be a good idea, we’ll look into other options just in case but Peace Corps has been my dream. I hope it works out, keep you updated. (Additional Mali News)
Brett’s mom is going to give a huge sigh at this post :) She is always telling me to stop worrying, stop being scared, and most importantly stop saying those things out loud! Spreading negative thoughts in the air is like wishing for them to happen… I should know this. I preach about it any chance I get! I can just hear me counseling on it now…”You are what you think you are, if you say it out loud chances are it will happen.” Your brain is a very powerful “machine” no one knows what it is fully capable of and I am positive that you can control the outcome of your life based on what you let yourself think about. So, that being said… I am going to “Walk the Walk” and turn those “Woes into Pros!!!” ( I just made that up! How clever… Thanks )
Things I am Nervous About and the Positives I Will “Think” Into Happening :)
- Being Dirty
- Well, its no secret that I have tendencies towards being dirty already. Africa is a whole different kind of dirty though and the possibility I will have to take bucket baths is SKY HIGH! I have been thinking about this a lot and my solution is quite romantic- at the risk of too much information- Brett and I will be able to wash each others feet as Jesus does and take time out for one another. Bath time at night will hopefully turn into something relaxing and loving. Heaven knows I need to try and make this positive otherwise I will be so irritated that dirt keeps getting in the bed or that I can never get the middle of my back clean :)
- One day I am going to be a supermom when it comes to getting rid of creatures! Living in a hut is going to be no sanctuary from bugs!! I am going to see them, sleep with them, probably eat them and by the time my 2.5 years are over I am going to learn how to be friends with them!
- Every volunteer writes about these awful diseases, and really not much good can come from them… BUT I will be able to stay at a consistent weight regardless of how much rice I am forced to eat ?!!? I am trying here :)
- Pooping in a Hole
- This is gross! I have already begged Brett to build me a portable seat. Chances are if I cry enough about it he will build one :) However, in the meantime this gives me great motivation to strengthen my thighs!! Hey, look at that… Motivation to work out and have better legs- YES PLEASE! My goal is to be able to squat without breaking a sweat for at least 5 minutes. Haha – no it doesn’t take me 5 minutes to do the deed… but first I have to relax my mind into not thinking about the monsters and critters that can come and snatch me at up any moment! Seriously!
- Being In A Muslim Country
- We have a bad taste in our mouth about Muslims, we have feared them, and definitely do not understand them… I am going to have the opportunity to learn all there is to know about their customs and religion and I hope there will be some transference. I hope I grow as a person from what they teach me and I hope to teach them in turn.
- Learning French/Bambara
- This is easy… I am going to develop the skills to seduce my husband by just saying things like “Le Poisson Nage Rouges” (Which means… The Red Fish Swims – Sexy Right?? Well in English, NO – but in french it sounds great!)
- No Electricity
- I will be able to play all the hand and foot I want! Card games are going to rule the world – Dominoes are going to be my new TV and Reading – well reading has always been one of my number one past times! I am just hoping with all this extra time I can teach my neighbors about Munchkin!
- No Water
- Again, my arms are going to be gorgeous with how much effort I am going to have to put into carrying water back and forth from what ever well I live closest to! And balance, I will probably learn how to carry it on my head. That seems exciting!
- Only Having Brett Who Talks/Walks/Looks Like Me
- Finding ways to relate to another culture is going to be difficult! I am lucky to be going to Mali though and I keep reminding myself of that. I am told over and over that Malians are the most welcoming, kind people and I am going to fall in love with them… From the stories my mom hears about this she is worried I won’t come home… It is mostly exciting to get to experience a culture with such a HUGE community aspect!
- Although we have been saving I am still worried that we won’t have enough money! Peace Corps basically pays you enough to survive. I just want to be able to have some freedom to roam and have some creature comforts every once in awhile- but at the same time this is going to teach me that money isn’t everything and that I don’t need things to make me happy! I will be surrounded by people without and through them I will learn that it is still enough.
- Missing Family and Friends
- There isn’t a positive to this, lets be honest.
- I might be 30 before I have my first child!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhh!! This haunts me! However, I keep telling myself that I will go into kids with NO regrets, I have tried many things, I have had hundreds of adventures, I have been extremely poor, I have traveled the world, and by this time I will be wiser and mature enough to have children! I will have gotten MOST of the travel ants out of my pants and might be ready for a stable life- in a real house… Lol. We will see!
- How am I going to work in a country where I don’t know the language or the culture? How am I going to motivate people to learn and be educated when their entire lives are spent farming and most never go to school? I am going to learn patience! I am going to learn discipline! I am going to be better at teaching motivation and hopefully I am going to be able to inspire! Who wouldn’t be excited about that!
Well there You have it… Its a good start – I keep telling myself. Honestly, It hasn’t even hit me yet that I am leaving… But I do take a couple minutes a day to sit and make myself think about it. The last thing I want is to be blind sighted at the airport with all of my family and friends around to see me clawing to stay in the car! Oh, just kidding that wouldn’t happen… ;)
Well there you have it, life is going to change… Honestly I am terrified but this video makes me die laughing AND makes me feel so much better! Yes, I will poop in a hole but it could be worse. Brett said he would build me a personal seat! I have the best husband EVER!
I was just laying around, watching “Biggest Loser” with my sister in-law and out of the corner of my eye I see the UPS truck pull up the long dirt road leading to my in-laws house! I was instantly nervous! I knew it was coming, but still had NO idea what it would say…. In my previous post I mentioned possible countries – Mali was not one of them! Funny how that works. You would think Peace Corps Wiki would have all the possibilities ;) but that wasn’t the case! All of us go and meet the UPS guy and all of us take the package into the kitchen – we take one excited look around the room and start opening! Out comes the blue Peace Corps folder and all the paperwork! First page…
“Dear Brittany and William,
Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that we invite you to begin training in Mali for Peace Corps service. You will be joining thousands of Americans who are building stronger communities around the world. This call to action gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and to find the best in yourself. “
Mali!! What!! I didn’t know that was an option…. Where is that!!! Lol. We all immediately thought it was an island. WHOA shows how much we know in the heat of the moment. I am sure if not surprised we would have been more intelligent about our geography. Don’t judge. :)
Quick Facts about our new jobs for the next 2.5 years: We have orientation May 31st, 2012. Then we head to Mali for training June 2nd, 2012. Training lasts about 3 months in the capitol of Mali which is Bamako, and then we start our service August 3rd, 2012. Our actual service will be in a small village somewhere in the country. There is no telling where or how big. We won’t know details like that until we are finished with training. Brett’s title is Water and Sanitation Extension Agent. My title is Education and Literacy Program Volunteer. Even with those titles we still won’t have a real understanding of job duties until we get there.
We are fired up for this next phase of life! I will update as we continue on with the paperwork and gather new details!!! Wow! Dreams really do come true!!
Next steps: Learn French and Bambara, Yellow Fever Vaccination, Peace Corps Passport, Accountability Paperwork and Researching our country!
Start saving your money family and friends! I’m going to need visits :)
Wow! Nothing is better on your Birthday than an email saying ” We have processed your invitation! Congratulations!” Yes! Congratulations :)
This is great news! Our search is over, the waiting is pretty much finished and although I’m still nervous I couldn’t be more ready to start Peace Corps service! Our placement adviser said our invitation will be in the mail by the end of the week and we will receive it in at least 10 business days! Our final Region is Francophone Africa leaving June 2012. So that means we are going to: Burkina-Faso, Benin, Cameroon, or Senegal! Wow. Africa … The craziest thing is that the first time I applied (in college 2007) I was nominated for this same region… and to be going there again is really a huge sign that it is right. Sometimes it just takes awhile and a couple of new turns to get you where you are supposed to be. Brett is beyond thrilled especially with his job description! Water and Sanitation has been on his heart for a long time and I am glad he will be able to live that out. Now, once again we are waiting… but this time there are some cold hard facts at the other end of it. In our packet will be the departure date, specific country, and job titles. :) I can’t even believe it. Throughout this process I have tried to prepare myself for a 18+ month wait, some couples take even longer, but we have been placed and will leave all within 14 months of submitting our application! I feel lucky, so blessed to have this opportunity!
Happy Birthday To Me!!!!!! 26 Years Old and Moving To Africa!
On December 16th we were emailed by our new Placement Officer. The wait was difficult to bear and I was SO relieved to finally hear from someone!! She explained that because of medical reasons I had site specific support guidelines. Basically, I have a Paragaurd and there are some countries that wouldn’t be able to help if there happened to be a problem with that over the 27 months.
Based on these medical guidelines and our skills sets we were transferred to a different program. In French Speaking Africa!!! The exclamations make you think I am excited, and I guess now I am but it has taken me the last 2 weeks to feel this way. I was looking forward to Asia mostly because I felt like it was more accessible. Or rather, more of a destination spot that friends and family would be more likely to visit. For lack of a better way to describe it, I felt less trapped there.
Now, 2 weeks later, and with a lot of help from Brett, family and friends I feel great about this new assignment. Its important to concentrate on why you want to join Peace Corps when you start getting placed. Quickly you can get wrapped up on the location and the pros and cons of that rather than realizing you are taking on this challenge to help and love others. And what better place than Africa?
With the new location we also have new job titles. This is the best part! Before we were both assigned to teach English. Now, our job descriptions are much more our style and skill set. As of now, I will be in Youth and Community Development and with my background as well as my passion this is going to be perfect for me! Brett was moved to Water and Sanitation and he couldn’t be happier as this has been in his heart for years now.
All in all we are thrilled and can’t wait to start our new adventure. We still have the final interview with our new placement officer in the next couple of days and then that’s it! Shortly after we will be given invitations and then we can start preparing!