The Fun That Was Peace Corps Guyana - Mark's Blog

Postings from just north of the equator. Let's see if training in CPR and First Aid prepares me to teach Health Education in a small, remote village in Guyana. I'm thinking... no. Read all about this ill advised decision! In addition, here is the required Peace Corps disclaimer: "The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps." So, please, don't confuse me with the White House Press Secretary.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Towards the End

So my time is winding down. As my host mom now repeatedly reminds me, I can say that I’m leaving “next month.” I should add, this is not a happy thing for her. People are asking me if I’m going to remember them when I go home. When am I going to come back to visit? Why haven’t I found a girl to marry? (That one my co-worker likes to good-naturedly ask me in front of other people. She loves to see my explanations and then accuse me of thinking Guyanese girls are ugly.) So the time is quickly flying by in these last few weeks as I try to wrap up my work and prepare to leave my home for the past two years.

We close our service on Friday April 25th (we being the ten of us left in our group that originally was twenty) and then most of fly out of here the following Monday. As I think I’ve maybe already posted, a group of us are going to travel around Panama, Ecuador, and Columbia for about a month and half before we return to America to begin the reverse-culture-shock fun. I guess that means I need to watch the news to make sure that a war hasn’t broken out between Columbia, Ecuador, and Venezuela when we’re trying to be tourists in two of those countries. But it should be a nice trip that helps us relax before we return to America.

Returning to America should be interesting. We had a three-day conference on basically that topic a few weeks ago. We went over administrative stuff, health care information, how to apply for jobs, resumes, etc. But one of the most interesting topics was the reverse-culture shock. Basically, we were warned to prepare ourselves to be alienated from America and everyone we know there. Ha! People back home either wouldn’t understand what we had done here or probably wouldn’t have the patience to listen to our blathering about it. Of course, these were generalizations, and we knew that some would care when we get home. But even for them, they would have no context and wouldn’t ever quite be able to understand our time down here. It’s like we Peace Corps Volunteers are in a secret club (Skull and Bones? The Bohemian Club?) that only the initiated can understand. And though we want to talk about it and will try, we shouldn’t have high hopes for the lay people. Now, I don’t want to have a holier than thou attitude here. We also need to realize that we aren’t the amazing world-savers that we sometimes like to believe. Though we’ve done something special things down here, so have a lot of our friends or family members back home in the two years we’re been gone. So one of the things we were advised was, to put it bluntly, “to get over yourselves.” No more big fish in a small pond for us. And that reality check is probably good. Sometimes we do get a big head about how challenging it is down here and how easy people have it in America. It’s true that this is hard a lot of the time for reasons that can only be experienced. But we forget how hard America can be. And we need to remember that so we don’t wallow in self-regard when we’re back, pouting because no one seems interested in how San Francisco is so different from Guyana. No one wants to hear how easy they’ve had it anywhere, whether it be in Guyana seemingly trying to herd cats or in America trying to get a foot in a door that may lead to a career after college.

I guess I’m writing this so as to give people a bit of a heads-up on how most returned Peace Corps Volunteers are when they return. I’m only writing about what I anticipate. But from talking to other returned volunteers, they say that it’s mostly harder than they expected. I mean, who expects returning to your home to be hard? Especially after you’ve been fantasizing about all the great food and opportunities you’ve been missing for the past two years. But it turns out it is. And so please bear with us. Listen an extra minute past the usual ten seconds you usually allot for a topic you have nothing to say about. Indulge our wackiness and comments about all the cereal options in supermarkets. We’ve changed down here after two years. We can’t hide it and will need a bit of patience and help to square the new us with the old home.

4 Comments:

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Phillip Chan said...

Yeah dude, plus it's going to be ten times harder with me tagging along to rain on your parade every time you try and drop a Peace Corps line on girls at bars...p.s. I may be in Philly next year!

 
At 5:40 AM, Blogger George said...

Mark! Congrats on almost being done with your peace corps tenure. I hope you keep the blog going while you're traveling. It would be fun to read about the places you see.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger TheAlmightyPeter said...

mark, i think the hardest about you surviving the reintegration into America will be witnessing the Giant's line-up in person. HAHA!

 
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