I wanted to write a quick note, and give folks an update to what I have been working on. Despite spending the last few months ridiculously jealous of my brother (www.virtualwayfarer.com) and his travels through the Netherlands in fall, and now through South America this winter, I have been working hard and keeping myself motivated as I await news on my Peace Corps deployment.
In early November, I received notification that my application to the U.S. Peace Corps had been accepted, and that I was being transferred from my recruitment officer to a placement officer for the U.S. Peace Corps. As I worked through my paperwork, I was notified that I had been nominated to the Community Development and Health Services program in Eastern Europe. I could not contain my excitement. As many of you know, I graduated with honors from Arizona State University in May, with a degree in Global Studies and a focus in Urban Systems. I have been working toward international development and community development work since graduation and applied to the Peace Corps this September.
I’ve included the Community Development Project Description from the Peace Corps which is the program I’ve been nominated for (but not necessarily the program I will ultimately be participating in) below:
THE PEACE CORPS: CREATING SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you help translate host country development plans into community level action, thus improving the lives of local people. You arrive, not with funds or equipment, but with skills and knowledge as well the willingness to adapt them to your community. A successful project is one that continues to function effectively after you leave. Before starting your two-year assignment, you receive up to three months of training that focuses on language, cross-cultural, and technical skills. It is usually provided in the country where you serve. The training focuses on language and cultural training to give you an understanding of the country’s governmental system, cultural norms, and interpersonal relations. This assists you in becoming an integral member of the community. Technical training enhances your ability to effectively transfer your skills and knowledge to host-country people.
YOUR WORK AS A PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER
Since its inception, the Peace Corps has seen its particular role as one of working at the grass-roots level of development. Community Service Volunteers work on projects that address immediate needs which improve the quality of life and, at the same time, identify community assets to build long-term self-sufficiency. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, your work may be one of facilitator, evaluator, organizer, resource provider, or educator. You work side-by-side with local counterparts to strengthen communities—bringing together both institutions and individuals to achieve lasting and constructive change. Projects are designed, implemented, and evaluated with extensive and broad-based local input, including consultation with representatives from the community served, and by employing appropriate methodologies and technologies. Your responsibilities and activities vary depending on the situation at your site. In collaboration with project-related groups, schools and government agencies, your duties may include:
• Coordinate a participatory-style assessment and feasibility study to identify issues and determine appropriate projects.
• Work with community leaders to help carry out projects and ensure sustainability.
• Mobilize local people to create awareness and initiate activities; for example, work with women’s groups to develop income generating crafts or garden projects or work with parent teacher associations to conduct literacy campaigns.
• Facilitate meetings with project related staff to discuss project implementation and evaluation.
• Assist the community in identifying locally available funds and resources to meet project goals.
• Train community members in leadership skills, including project management, bookkeeping methods, curriculum development, and staff development.
• Transfer knowledge and skills to counterparts in order to help them to function effectively at their job.
• Form local groups, such as women’s cooperatives or youth clubs.
• Strengthen organizational capacity, including improving financial, planning, fundraising and administrative systems.
In whatever capacity you serve, you are a catalyst for change. Involvement in these activities means involvement in the life of the community and often, an assignment with little or no established structure or schedule. You are continually engaged in defining your role in response to the local people. You cannot know all the answers, but your can-do attitude and your willingness to work with your hosts to find appropriate solutions will help people to help themselves. Your creativeness, flexibility, self-motivation, and self-discipline will be vigorously challenged as you establish credibility and
adapt to your new environment.
As you can imagine this program, with its focus on health services, is very exciting for me. I am looking forward to my medical clearance, and review by a placement officer. Honestly, it is hard to wait!
My Possible deployment date will be in June, but may fluctuate based on availability, program specifics, and competitive ranking of my application.