Getting Closer

13 Dec

Talked to my placement officer again today.

The bad news is that there are no more open spots in second quarter programs so I won’t be leaving anytime soon. The good news is that I still get to go somewhere in Africa. My dilemma is where, do I pick door #1 of door #2?

Door #1 Departing the first week of April for sub-Saharan Africa. The program is heavily HIV/AIDS focused and works in a variety of capacities. Peace Corps Wiki leads me to believe that this is probably Botswana.

Door #2 Departing the first week of May for sub-Saharan Africa. This program involves HIV/AIDS education but also other health topics, working more closely with non governmental organizations. This program also prefers someone with a French speaking background. There’s no information or dates that fit this description on Peace Corps Wiki. Malawi fits the departure timeline but doesn’t have any French speaking parts. I really really really really want this program to be in Rwanda. Really really really. Somehow I don’t think I can flat out ask my PO if that is the case. The reasons I think this might be Rwanda is because of the French speaking background which is desired but not mandatory. Also, there aren’t any departure dates for Rwanda in 2011 yet. Mostly it’s just wishful thinking.

My PO said I could let her know by Wednesday morning buuuut I feel like the longer I take to make the decision, the longer I’m delaying that elusive invitation.

So I’m not sure which door I should pick. What do you think?

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3 Responses to “Getting Closer”

  1. Beth Mallalieu December 14, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    Heidi! Ah, so frusterating about the whole process, I definitely feel for you! I was originally supposed to leave in September then they pushed me to January. Its so hard! I would say it comes down to the work you want to do. From my personal experience, and thats all I can speak from, they told us we would be doing health work with NGO’s, kind of like your second description, in reality what that turned out to be though was was almost ALL NGO development, the health work, was the fact that the NGO’s were focused on health issues, but as volunteers our main role was really more business than health. We were there to help write constitutions and business plans and get the NGO’s functioning at a higher level. If you want to do development work, this is great, if you want to actually do health work, it sucks! They were very misleading with us in the description of work, by saying it was NGO and health, really, it was just business with NGO. So… I guess my point is, if you want to do actually health work, it sounds like the first choice is the better option, its hard though really not knowing. And thats the thing, you can’t know, all you can know is that wherever you do end up it will be a truly amazing experience and I have no doubt you’ll make the best out of it.

    p.s. Botswana is an AMAZING country, my favorite place I’ve been to by far! Absolutely gorgeous and the people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met in my life!

    • goodlifechoice December 14, 2010 at 7:56 am #

      Thanks Beth! I’m just happy that I get to go to Africa, though I’ll be there just as/after you’re leaving 😦 Thank you for the feedback. I keep telling myself that no matter what wherever I go is going to be awesome. But it’s hard when you’re given a choice you want to feel like you’re making the right one.

      Honestly, I’m leaning toward the May departure working more with NGOs because it aligns more with the work I’ve been doing and where I think I want to continue work. However, I have a few concerns like will I find less satisfaction with work if I’m not working directly with people. Also, will working within a bureaucratic system prove very frustrating.

      Did you/your counterparts who worked with NGOs feel less connected/integrated to your sites than those who worked directly with programs?

      • Beth Mallalieu December 14, 2010 at 10:49 am #

        I would say integration and connection to your site will happen no matter what. You’re going to be living with these people and around your community all the time. No matter what work you’re doing I would say that most of the integration and feeling of connectedness happens outside of work, on the weekends, or in the evenings. Thats how it was for me anyways. I worked with the local government, in an office a lot of the time but I never felt like I wasn’t connected to my community, by spending time in peoples homes on the weekends and attending events thats how I connected. Unless you’re placed in a city, which is a reality, no matter what your work is, i think you’ll find a way to connect and integrate. The hardest thing working with NGO’s though I would say is the corruption, and as volunteers we’re not allowed to do anything about it. Corruption is everywhere and its really hard to see in organizations and have to work around it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Its very very frusterating, but there’s not really any way to avoid it. I’m not saying all NGO’s out there are corrupt, not at all, but as volunteers over here, i know a very large percentage of us have experienced it. As for working directly with people, you will be! You’ll be working with the other members of the NGO, you’ll be making an impact in their lives and helping their NGO to work better therefore helping the people their NGO is targeting. I think if the more business aspect is what you like then go for it, me I don’t like the business part, all the paperwork, I would rather be teaching health, but if thats what you enjoy, I say go for it, I don’t think it will hinder your integration at all, and you’ll still be working with the local people and making an impact. Don’t forget to, that really, it is what you make of it. where ever you end up you really can tailor your project to what you want to do by identifying the needs of the community you’re in. I was placed with the local government but honestly I would say only about 40% of my time I ended up working there. I found other projects that were more meaningful and interesting to me and thats what I worked on, and thats totally fine. So don’t feel like you’re limiting yourself by picking, where every you go you will make an impact and be able to find something YOU enjoy doing.

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