Monday, September 16, 2013

Preparing to leave...

I never officially announced my plans for the upcoming year to everyone yet, partly due to excitement and uncertainty. I am following my life’s dream of becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer and I am scheduled to leave for Zambia, Africa early February of next year for a two year assignment.

The excitement stems from the fact I will be living my dream. My father had given me literature about the Peace Corps when I was fifteen. When I read it I realized that is what I want to do. The Peace Corps did not give me the idea to travel to third world countries, I had wanted to do that since I was very young. It’s just that the Peace Corps is a vehicle to allow me to do this. To make a long story short, I chose to raise a family instead, and put my dream on hold. With my children grown it is time for me to fulfill my dream. 

The uncertainty: The majority of Peace Corps volunteers are in their 20’s, fresh out of college. I’m forty-five, but the Peace Corps encourages people my age and older to join. I am in excellent health which gives me no doubt that I can do this physically. I have worked several years with environmental organizations, including the Northern Connecticut Land Trust, teaching about conservation so I am sure I have the skills to improve the lives of the people who are kind enough to let me serve them. There is some trepidation that I hold deep inside; I’m entering other people’s world. How long before they accept me? How long before I make friends? I’m shy by nature, but I have always held steadfast and move beyond my fears. With a lot of thought and soul searching and speaking to others who have done this; this is the right decision for me at this time.

I will leave behind a life of comfort, including toilets, electricity, and other things many of us take for granted. I am an avid camper so living without these amenities shouldn’t be too difficult for me to adjust to. I’m a ‘tough gal’ and I love to ‘rough it’. Hey, I'm a trail runner; I can handle a lot that's thrown my way!

What I will be doing in the Peace Corps: I will take part in the Linking Income, Food, and the Environment (LIFE) project which is in conjunction with the Zambian Forestry Department. My official title will be Forestry Extension Agent. I will work together with the people I live with and visit (I will travel from village to village by bicycle) and help figure out how we can improve farming techniques and conserve the natural environment.

Zambia is a peaceful country and it is known for its friendly people. Zambia is south of the equator and is surrounded by eight countries. Zambia is a former British colony, so English is spoken widely in this country, though I will still learn a tribal language. I am looking forward to getting to know the flora and fauna of Zambia. Many animals can be found there, such as elephants, hyenas, lions, zebras, and hippos. The second largest wildebeast migration goes through Zambia.

I have less than five months to get ready. I have a long list of medical and dental tasks to satsify before I take off so that means I have many expenses awaiting me. I also have a very long packing list of the things I will need to bring with me. I will include a list of supplies that I will need. If you are looking to get rid of anything on the list, I would be more than happy to take it off of your hands. I plan to organize a fundraiser, possibly a spaghetti dinner social, where I will entertain my friends and family and help everyone learn what I’m getting myself into.

This short movie will give you an idea what I'm up for...

ZaMovie: Peace Corps Zambia Part 1 of 2 (6 minutes)

From now until I leave I will update my blog regularly. When I am at my country of service, my entries may be spotty due to limited access to electricity. I plan on posting many, many photos along with detailed descriptions.

I will miss all of you when I leave. Stay well, and live your lives to the fullest.





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