It’s been a little while since I was able to write in an update, and a lot has happened in between, but let me start off today by jumping back to early July – July 8th through the 13th in fact.
I left off having just arrived in Lusaka, lost in the shining mirrored glass and steel of Levy Junction, and having a bite to eat with a couple of my fellow volunteers. After settling in at our hostel and making sure we had everything together, it was time for a little bit of food, and a traditional Zambian meal of Nshima with chicken and rape greens hit the spot.
The next morning it was an early wake up call as we gathered our gear, and headed over to the Longacres lodge. I wasn’t impressed, but it was only going to be for a night. I charmed my way into a private suite with bathroom and shower as well as a queen sized bed, and I settled in. I had the chance to do a quick workout, eat, take a long luxurious bath and get the aches and knots of the road out of my back and legs. As the other volunteers arrived we started coalescing into an ever growing mass of Peace Corps Volunteers. We finally erupted from the lodge and headed out to a Braii. Popcorn, chips, good music, and dancing followed, and when the morning wake up call came, we struggled hap-haphazardly onto the bus and out to our CoS destination.
The Protea Safari Hotel:
Wow! What a treat. This hotel was really amazing, domesticated Kudu and Puku, Bush Bucks, Owls and all sorts of other natural wildlife, wandering in and around the compound, combined with a jaw dropping and belt loosening buffet of food. The Protea Safari was really something spectacular. During the next two days we went through the steps of preparing for the end of our service, and wrapping up our projects. For the rest of my intake it was time to take those words to heart and start their community exit – the last three months of their service where they prepare for their departure. For me, it was a bit of an interesting experience. I was able to participate and be with my intake, but as an Extension volunteer, and as a Technical trainer, I had already completed my Community Exit. I’d been pulled from site, and I wouldn’t be returning. It made it difficult to relate. The rest of my intake were just starting to realize what it would be like to close out their service, say goodbye to their community and close friends. The families they’d joined, their hut and children they’d pseudo adopted. I’d already had to go through that process, and it made some of the session a little bit redundant. I was frustrated a few times, as I thought to myself, “Well, that would have been really nice to know…” Still, it was a great program and really helped me understand my options going forward.
As we talked about the next steps, our Close of Service and what it means to have the title RPCV we talked a lot about further education. The Paul D. Coverdell program, our Non-Compete Eligibility, and how we might leverage our experience toward a Masters or PhD program. Those conversations, PowerPoints, hints and tips really helped get me thinking of what the next year as a PCVL might mean in terms of a career, and what I wanted to do.
That’s a topic for another post, but I do want to say that the CoS conference was a great way to build on the transition process and flip my mindset over to being a Trainer, and then to being a PCVL! As the conference wrapped up, we came together the last evening as an intake, settled into a large circle and participated in a Peace Corps Zambia tradition. Sharing our thoughts, feelings, and experiences with each other. It was a beautiful moment that allowed us to come together as an intake in a positive light and celebrate the huge achievement we’d made in completing our two years of service.
The next morning we packed up, ate as much as we could at the breakfast, and then piled into the buses for the trip back to Longacres. From there I was on my way out to the CHIP 2013 PST training site. Excited and ready to start my work as a technical trainer.