Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Invitation!

This story starts about a week back, but I was waiting until I actually received and accepted the invitation before posting about it here. I wanted to learn more about my job and tell all my close family and friends about what happened before blogging about it.

Last Friday, December 23rd, I received a phone call from the Peace Corps. After finally coming to terms with the fact that I might have to wait until possibly September and likely not a Spanish-speaking country, the Peace Corps had to throw me another curve ball. When I got the call, I was extremely confused, since I wasn't supposed to hear anything until after the first of the year. My PO (who is probably my favorite person ever) told me that a last minute spot opened for a Water and Sanitation Engineering position in the Dominican Republic, and that he was going to send me an invitation that day! I was bouncing off the walls I was so excited.

The position sounds absolutely perfect for me. I will be an "Appropriate Technology Developer," which means I will be working on engineering type projects to bring better technologies to a small community. It focuses on community needs in potable water, sanitation, small businesses, and alternative energies (i.e. improved cookstoves, hydroelectic power, and solar and wind energy). I will likely be in a smaller, more rural community, but I am okay with that. The job description perfectly fits my engineering education at Columbia and my future hopes for work in developing counties. I really couldn't be happier!

Another wonderful thing about the Dominican Republic is that I am allowed to move out into my own house after 6 months. While I had accepted the fact that in Honduras I would have to have a host family all 2 years, I am excited for the chance to have my own place, cook my own food, and have some quiet time alone. It should be a really great experience.

Thanks to everyone for all your support during this time. I can't believe I was so lucky to get a new invitation so quickly and one that is so well suited towards my hopes for service. I'll post more about the country and things I learn as I get to them - now I've got reading to do and a Visa application to fill out and all sorts of things!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The New Waiting Game

Well, I have now talked to placement. They are looking for positions for me in the April to June range. However, I am being rather picky this time around and only want them to look at positions in my field - Water and Sanitation - rather than for all fields I am qualified for. Because of this, I may have to wait until July to September for a placement. I would prefer to wait and have a placement I am really passionate about and serve for 2 years than take the first thing available with the knowledge that I don't think I will be happy with it. I may be sent to a region other than Central or South America now. I am really sad about that, since I have been working hard on my Spanish and was really looking forward to gaining fluency in Spanish. I should be learning more in the next 2-4 weeks, so hopefully I will get some good news.

The news has come out that they will be pulling Honduras volunteers out and on administrative leave while they assess the country. El Salvador and Guatemala will leave their volunteers in but still monitor the situation. The fact that they have actually pulled out the volunteers shows how bad the situation really has gotten. I hope that Honduras can be a place that will become stable again - I would love to visit after all the research I have done.

I am finally getting to the point that I am accepting this and moving forward. I was really stressed and upset for several days to the point of barely sleeping, but now that I at least have a timeline, I am calming down and starting to plan my life for the next few months. Luckily, my work is really flexible, and they agreed to keep me on for a few more months, even though I had technically put in my last day for December 21st. I can make some more money before I leave and use that for a few more trips. I'm still going to go up to NYC to see friends and family in January, and I am going to try to plan more small trips to get me out of Gainesville and doing stuff. I may try to plan a trip to Europe, but that really depends on what month I leave for Peace Corps and how much money I have saved up.

While this puts a bit of a damper on the holiday season (especially since I know most of my presents are things to take with me for the Peace Corps), I'm trying to make the best of it. My family has been very supportive throughout this entire process and are very patient in listening to my obsessive wondering about what will happen next.

Happy holidays everyone, and let's hope the New Year brings great things for us all.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Goodbye Honduras, Hello ???

So, as some of you may have heard, I am no longer going to Honduras. Due to a security incident in country, it was determined that the security situation was too unstable to send new volunteers. I am of course upset and in shock about the sudden change. I have been preparing for the last 5 months to leave for Honduras in February, and to have it suddenly change and be back up in the air. However, if the security situation really is this bad, it's best that we don't go and I appreciate the Peace Corps looking out for me and not putting me in a dangerous situation.

So what does that mean for me? I should be getting a call from Placement on Monday or Tuesday. I am not exactly sure what this will entail - they could issue me an invitation that same day, or it could be to let me know what the next steps are and to see what I am open to for regions, job placements, and departure dates. I will be sure to update when I have more information. Fingers crossed that it doesn't take as long to get an invite the second time around :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bucket List Updates!

Well, I have in the past week done a few of the things on my bucket list and have plans for accomplishing a few more!

First, I ran my first road race! It was a 5K, and I ran it in 29 minutes 2 seconds. I was really pleased with my time - for my first road race to run less than 10 minute miles, I was really pleased. I have continued my running - I am in week 4 of the 12 week training schedule I have for the half-marathon, and will soon be registering for the Gainesville Half-Marathon the weekend before I leave for Peace Corps. I also hope to run a 10K and a 15K before I run the half marathon, so I should have a better idea for my timing and endurance.

Next, I booked my trip to NYC. I'll be heading there for about a week and a half - I think it's 9 nights exactly. One of my best friends will be overlapping my trip with me also visiting the city, so there should be tons of people to see and things to do! Now to order my tickets to see Darren Criss in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying!"

Finally, I took a little mini weekend trip with my family. We went to Orlando for a night for a concert. We had an amazing dinner and brunch, and then went to the Trans Siberian Orchestra concert. It was an AWESOME concert! Tons of cool lights and pyrotechnics! It was a great little escape for the weekend. We are working on planning 1-2 other short trips to spend some good family time together.

Other than that, things are about the same. I've got about a week left of work - I'm leaving right before Christmas, so I will have time to do all the things I want to!

Hope everyone is having a lovely December!