Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Demystification Praticals

For this weekend I have to send out a huge shout out to the G5 peeps, for they are the group responsible for setting up the demystification I just went through. Apparently, they spent 10 days straight in Addis, not being able to leave the hotel, before being asked about what type of site they wanted. And then were dropped in the middle of it without any idea of what was going on.

Not wanting to have us go through the same thing, they set up this weekend. While all of us in G7 are edu volunteers, only half of G5 were, so our PCMs (Peace Corps Mentors - those who have been in country for at least a year and are there to help us out, all of whom are G5 for us) took us on trips to visit edu sites and the PCVs who live there.

I went to Kimese with eight other volunteers. It's about a 6 hour bus ride north east of Addis, in an area called Welo.  At  about 20K, it's on the smaller end of a town that PC will send us (which, considering I'm from a town of less than that, it isn't that small). It's also very Muslim, about 80%.

I learned so much, visiting the primary school and the CTE (teacher's college), about how the school system works, about how classes are run, about government edu structure. And then, since I actually stayed in volunteer's house, about the mechanics of living as a PCV. How to shower, how to use the outhouses here, how to deal with people who stare at you.  And even more about what will get you kicked out of Peace Corps, and what will help you make it through the full two years. Plus, a lot about culture and what I can expect. 

I can't begin to understand or comprehend how other groups survived (or how you will Matt) without having some one to talk to to show you the ropes. Most of the early groups here in Ethiopia had a low COS (completion of service) rate, few stayed for two years in their sites. I feel like G7 has it easy - not only do we have access to PCVs to ask questions of but most of us will have site mates from other groups.  The number of sites PC places us in are tight, and my group is so big, that all of us will be within a short travel distance from at least one person in our group.

While I still feel nervous about starting, for all the PCVs I hung out with this weekend said it was hard, especially the first 3-5 months, I at least feel a little bit prepared. Less likely to be surprised maybe, but still capable of being so. Kimese hasn't helped me decided if I want a site like it or not though, mainly because I have nothing but Addis to compare it too. But I wouldn't want to stay in Addis, even if that was an option.  Too dirty, too nerve-wracking, too Western. After seeing the  country side, rural Africa, I looking forward to living in it. 


Matt said...

Thanks for the personal mention! :P I too have no idea how we'll fare as the first group to return to Nepal... BUT I loved reading your recent posts and seeing your photos! Love seeing your perspective and hearing about all the awesome culture you've gotten to experience thusfar! When will you find out your permanent site???

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