Q. Hey Sandi- You still in the Kokomo area?
A. Noppers, I’m visiting family in Washington State now. The parents, Bobbi&Josh, and Wes moved here while I was in India and hadn’t seen them in about 5 months. It’s good to be here hanging out and spending time with the Rents.
Q. What are you up to these days?
A. I’m in between things right now. I got a Peace Corps invite the day I returned from being in India four months and only have 6 weeks before heading to Uganda for training. I’ve been busy spending time with friends and family, getting paperwork stuff in order, and attempting to pack for 27 months in a land I’ve never been to. It’s amazing how much time and effort goes into not actually working yet preparing for the job of a lifetime.
Q. So, what will you be doing in Uganda?
A. I’m in the Community Health and Economic Development program with the job title as a Youth Development Volunteer (which I haven’t heard of anyone else with the same description). Peace Corps trains volunteers to partner up with current organizations working within Ugandan communities- “Uganda’s Ministry of Health, and local and international organizations request Volunteers to assist them with developing, preventing HIV/AIDS among adults and youth, caring for orphans and vulnerable children, and supporting people living with AIDS, their families, and their caregivers.”
Q. What does that mean?
A. Well, some of my primary duties include:
-Working with a NonGovernmentOrganization(NGO)’s administrators to improve management skills.
-Plan and put in place life skills and whatnot educational info that is accurate and then present it in an engaging way that draws people in.
-Help people pursue their interests by identifying resources at hand.
-Jump start youth into creating their own income to improve their lives.
-Setting up programs to help orphans and vulnerable children.
-Create a home like atmosphere rather than institution feeling for orphans so they live in a home like setting in hopes they will live as closely to a normal life as can be
-Connect NGO’s together for holistic approach to help the community
-Educate about HIV/AIDS prevention, care, support life skills in orphan and youth organizations.
-Whatever they decide I should do.
I’d be excited to work in the group home setting such as I have with Bona Vista and Nesting Doves and use a lot of the skills learned there as well the ones from working with people at camp.
Q. When do you leave?
A. I leave from Washington State early August 3rd and will spend a couple of nights in Philly before heading to Uganda. In Philly, I’ll be signing paperwork, meeting the other volunteers, and hopefully see the “love” statue. We leave on August 5th for Uganda.
Q. So, they won’t be training you in the states?
A. Nah, it’s all in country. We’ll have a week to relax and to adjust to the time difference and get over jet lag before moving in with host families. We’ll have 6 days of training for 8 weeks focusing on language, culture, and technical skills. I’m excited about learning how to take apart and fix a bike. During training, each of us head out to a site to get hands on experience and come back together to discuss it. They know what they are doing. If I get placed in a village and live in a hut, they will have prepared me for it.
Q. Where will you be living?
A. After training, it depends on what the organization you are partnered with gives you. They have certain guidelines such as your own bathroom area and at least one if not two rooms. I may get a grass hut and I’d be cool with it. One volunteer worked with a girls school and had her own quarters there. Another volunteer has their own house with a garden, janky western style bathroom, and wifi so who knows.
Q. What will you eat?
A. Bananas. A lot of bananas. I’ve also heard that there is an Indian influence on some of the food which is exciting. I like samosas. I can’t wait to have fresh mangos that have flavor.
Q. Can you get packages?
A. Mail is always welcomed! Getting something from home is fantastic. I have list of things, such as music, oreos, photos, random stuff, that would be great. I’ll give the details later…
Q. Are you excited?
A. I’m excited for the experience, nervous about the unknown, praying that I’ll do well with the training and adapting, hoping that everyone will be safe. I had to pack everything for 27 months plus the trip out to Washington so that was a hit of reality. The time is coming for me to leave and I don’t think it will really sink in until I’m on the plane with the other 40 volunteers headed over.
Q. What will you do when you get back to the states?
A. Well, that is over 27 months away so who knows. It would be great to get a job with an international organization where I could do work here on the home front as well as do in country visits. Peace Corps has an emergency relief program where they send returned volunteers overseas to help a country for 2-6 months or something. I’ve thought about going to grad school for family studies or social work, but we’ll see. I also get the option of noncompetitive employment for government jobs. Being involved with the lives of individuals has been a life theme with work so hopefully I’ll still be doing that. We’ll see. Right now, I’m thinking more about packing for two years of life into two bags and a carryon…