Hello everyone! My apologies for my hiatus recently. As you can imagine, travelling a long distance and trying to adapt to a new home can be pretty challenging, and honestly it has been nice NOT to be looking at screens all the time lately! That being said, I want to document this experience well, and also give my friends and family and others who are interested a good taste of what we’re experiencing here. And so, the blog officially begins. I hope to keep these fairly brief, but informative, but more importantly I hope to answer any questions you may have. So please, feel free to leave comments here or drop me an e-mail, and I will reply as promptly as possible.
Before we start, though, there are a few technical things to get out of the way. While the Peace Corps and the U.S. Government encourage us to do things like blog and use social media as a way of accomplishing the goal of building bridges between the U.S. and host countries, they also want it to be clear that, while we are employed by the government, we are not necessarily their official mouthpieces. So, to be clear: any opinions or ideas expressed within this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the ideals, policies, or opinions of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.
With that out of the way, here’s the fun stuff: We are only about a week into training, and I can honestly say I have never had so much information tossed my way as I have over the past week – and things are only just beginning! As trainees, there are a lot of things we have to cover: what we will be doing as public health volunteers, safety and personal health maintenance, Peace Corps policies and expectations, Namibian history and culture, our goals and responsibilities as volunteers, language and cross-cultural training, and so on. We also sing often, and are learning important things like the Namibian national anthem as well as the anthem of the African Union. I also sincerely doubt there are many jobs which use more acronyms than the Peace Corps. I feel as though if I know half of them by the end of my service I will probably be in the top end of the bell curve.
If that paragraph seemed broad, generalized, and disjointed, then I feel I have succeeded in giving you an idea of what we feel like sometimes as trainees. Our training is VERY comprehensive – and on any given day we can talk about one, a few, or all of the abovementioned things over the course of 8-12 hours.
This isn’t to say that our trainers are doing a bad job. In fact, their work has been among the most professional and intelligently presented I have ever seen. It merely means this: we are jumping in to a very difficult, but incredibly rewarding field of work, and our success or failure depends heavily on how prepared we are to handle a very ambiguous and nuanced job environment. These trainings seem like mini-marathons in themselves because they are preparing us for a greater marathon – our 2 year service here in Namibia.
That will do it for these very early thoughts – but I want to know: what are your questions about this experience so far? In subsequent blogs, I plan to narrow things down to very particular subjects, and make them as useful to everyone back home as possible. Shortly, I will also attempt to incorporate video into these things! Until then, please keep sending me messages, sharing your stories back home, and working in the small ways to build bridges between people. That’s what this journey is all about!