Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

I didn't end up getting all my medical information in until Mid January. Fortunately this wasn't such a big deal because Peace Corps was backed up and not reviewing volunteers' medical information until four months before their nominated departure time.

I've been cleared dentally, but have a few things Peace Corps wants me to send in before being cleared medically. Some of my blood test results weren't included in my packet, I have to redo one test and they also want me to have my doctor explain one of my past prescriptions. I will hopefully be able to fax it all in on Friday...hopefully! It depends if the lab finishes my test.

I seriously cannot wait to be finished with school and begin volunteering. I've been reading blog after blog, beginning to end, of current PCVs and getting more and more excited. I'm so so ready to get an assignment and go! I recently got back from spring break where I coordinated a volunteer trip for Gonzaga. It also just made me more excited and ready to begin volunteering for Peace Corps!

Gonzaga has a program called Mission Possible and sends out eight groups of student volunteers to eight different sites across the United States. My group went to Denver, CO. It was a great experience, I loved being a participant in Mississippi last year, but I loved coordinating this year even more. I thrive on a busy schedule and I love organizing, planning and running things :). I was up at 5am every morning and in bed, if I was lucky, around 11pm each night. My group members and I (17 total) each volunteered at least 50 hours during the week and I'm SO proud of everyone! My group was very young, mostly freshman and sophomores, and there was no complaining or whining! They all did a great job doing service work they hadn't experienced before. It was great to see students without that much service experience out of their comfort zone, they all really really impressed me, I feel like a proud mom!

We volunteered at the African Community Center (non profit refugee resettlement agency), Escuela de Guadalupe, Earth Links and the Denver Rescue Mission. We also volunteered at the church/school where we stayed by painting and cleaning up for them. It's located in an inner city Latino community so everyone also got some great cross cultural experience there. I was excited to get some Spanish practice in and we all also enjoyed and greatly appreciated incredible, generous hospitality from everyone, including a lot of delicious Mexican and El Salvadoran food. I met so many amazing people while volunteering and hope to keep in contact with them!

I also realized I would love working for a refugee resettlement agency or with refugees when I eventually am back in the states. I volunteer in Spokane with refugees and work one-on-one tutoring English and I love it. But, in Denver I got to teach a beginner English class with six students and it was much easier and more fun! My class consisted of Mana (Somalia), Letrufael (Eritrea), Graciela (Mexico), Nara (Bhutan), Ali Swe and Sa Le (Burma).

One of my favorite parts of the week was when I pulled a world map off the wall and did an English lesson using it. Everyone was excited to see their country on the map and we each got to learn more about each other. How many years they lived there, what other countries they had been to or lived in, how many siblings or children we all had and where they lived, etc. It was a GREAT way to practice English as well because it's a subject everyone was excited about. When I pointed out Mexico for Graciela, Mana said: "walk, walk, walk!" It was pretty funny, we all were laughing. The other students were shocked to see how close Graciela's home was and wondering why she just didn't walk back! Seeing how far from Denver their home country was made them proud as well, especially Nara. He kept pointing to Bhutan then to Denver, and measuring the distance. We also would point from one country to another showing how we all come from so far away from each other. Even me from the NW. It was just a great afternoon talk/lesson and I will always remember it!! I miss them so much already!! :)

Anyway, I will stop talking about Mission Possible, it's been all I've talked about this past week and I'm sure people are getting tired of it. Sorry! I really love the program and if I don't work with refugees, then I can see myself working for a University's community service program, creating and managing programs like Mission Possible. I'm a HUGE proponent, clearly. Anyway, I will let you know when I'm medically cleared for Peace Corps, I'll hopefully have an assignment quickly after that happens ! !

PS: The picture is of me and Mana :)

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