What a whirlwind process it has been! I way under estimated how long it would take to finish packing the house, how much space we’d take in the truck, how long the final cleaning would take, and how many times we’d make a “final” trip to the dump with trash and recycling. Thank goodness for the friends who came to help load the truck, and for the love and patience of my wife and folks, who said take your time, do it right and don’t stress it, and get here when you get here.
I keep thinking that once I get [to Lexington, to Cincy, to staging…] that I can breathe and feel like I’ve gotten everything done. But I haven’t reached that point yet. The list of “things to do before we go” has definitely shrunk, but there are an amazing number of items still on it, considering we leave for staging in four days.
One of the items on the list of last things to do were a couple of questionnaires from the PC. They wanted to know about our preferences so they could identify a host family for training, and about our goals and such in PC. Yes, we’d already filled out most of those goals in previous essays, but it probably isn’t a bad idea to get an updated version with our feelings a week before we get there instead of a year out, when we put the “right words” in there to be accepted. :) And it did make me think; what do I want to get out of PC time, personally and professionally. What is my biggest fear? What could make me come back?
For the first, I said learning Spanish and always being proud to be able to say, “I served in the Peace Corps.” For my biggest fear, I had two: getting sick enough to have to come back (like Jason did), after all the planning and arrangements for two years of being gone and all the looking forward to serving; and losing a loved one while we are gone. April and I both lost a much loved grandfather last year, which gave us some long discussions about family and what might happen in the next two years. We love our family and we will miss them for two years, and it means a lot to have them supporting us as we assist others less fortunate in their initial circumstances of where they were born.
Related to that, there is a website where PCVs from around the world, as well as invitees, can discuss about their assignments, what to bring, what to do, etc, called ThirdGoal.com. We posted there in the Panama section a couple of times. I just came across a really interesting post there, from a couple of years ago, but I think it describes how the Peace Corps compares to the “real world” (whether US or host country) pretty well. If you have ten minutes, it is a worthwhile read. http://www.thirdgoal.com/ottojones/2005/12/12/posh-corps/#comments
(The Third Goal of the Peace Corps is to share information back to folks in the US who haven’t had the opportunities PCVs have to see the rest of the world about what that world is like, how other people live and survive and thrive, perceive the US, and those of us from the US. It is the one goal that we will continue to work on for the rest of our lives, long after goals one and two – assist the host country, and be impacted ourselves by our service there – have been completed.)