Here is another volunteer’s take on my early departure, as well as other excerpts about what it is like to be a Peace Corps volunteer.
Subject: riding a roller coaster
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 10:16:15 -0700
I have been on an unbelievable roller coaster. the last 4 weeks have delivered me more emotions and feelings than I ever imagined. An experience that without a doubt is challenging and full of lessons in life.
Let me first share with you. living without a refrigerator is not easy. More frequent trips to the open market and learning how quickly mold grows (like fuzzy coconut that shouldn’t be eaten. but I didn’t realize until after I was chomping on a piece and I looked in the container – yikes).
As the world of politics comes, I’m not usually a fan of and even more so now that I volunteer for the government. As a group of 23 who arrived in country a lil over 3 months ago, we’re now down to 22. One of our fellow trainees, Jason, was sent home nearly 4 weeks ago.
Our Country Director, Earl Brown, (which is new to country also CD’s have terms of 30 months) has displayed his authority and in his words is “not here to be buddy-buddy” with us. He has been extremely condescending to many of us and frankly we all feel like we have to walk on egg shells or we’ll get sent home, hmmm, and we’re volunteers, right?!
Jason didn’t even get to be sworn in as a volunteer with us and was humiliated at the ceremony, since Earl wouldn’t even let him sit with us. The grounds he was sent home was twisted and were as “the world wildlife fund (WWF) didn’t want him because he wasn’t sworn in (which was due to his website) and there weren’t any other sites. Which was complete B.S.
many of us have written letters to Peace Corps Headquarters in D.C. and some have even routed their complaints to their congressman. his demeanor is like as my aunt said Hitler.
You can check out his website at www.jason.pearce.net – even though his monologue was instructed to be shut down because it disclosed information like: “one volunteer got Dengue Fever and another volunteer got robbed”
anyhoo it really stirred us all up in the first week of being official volunteers, in addition to being homesick and lonely. Another controversy brought up were having digital photos online which I confronted Earl and asked him
how different is it having photos displayed on www.ofoto.com from having our swearing in ceremony picture plastered on the front page of the Guyana newspaper. where did I sign a photo consent. So now I’m on his “radar” as he says.
but I felt it wasn’t right to be contradictory. Anyhoo, there’s more to the story of course. but I won’t bore you. Jason is considering an appeal and most of our blood has stopped boiling, even though we miss him.
My safety was tested last Friday when another volunteer and I walked home from another volunteer’s home (did you get that? Tee hee)
about 5 blocks. I had my (newly bought purple machine) bicycle that I was pushing and together we felt it would be safe to walk home together since we live right next door to each other. Walking together seemed much safer. It was a lil after 9pm, early for a Friday night.
We were 2 houses away from our homes when 2 men came from behind us. They took my bicycle and tried to get the other volunteer’s jewelry, but realized it wasn’t of any high value. It all happened within a matter of maybe 30 seconds.
I was very startled and shook up, glad to have been okay and not hurt more than I was, which was a few marks on my back and bruised on my legs. I’ve had a number of thoughts running thru my head like “is this worth it”? & “why am I here?”
The tough lesson learned was don’t take anything for granted, it can happen when you’re least expecting.
I take many more precautions now and try not to be out after dark. I definitely have on and off day, and I’ve contemplated coming home because of safety, but I really want to be here. so hopefully I complete my 2-year service and I don’t ever encounter an incident like that again.
The amount of attention is tremendous as a foreigner. Nearly every man here feels the privilege to try to pick you up, and they’re blunt.
There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t hear this kissing sound (almost like if they were to suck any harder their lips would get swallowed) and being called “hey baby” or “where you from?”
We were prepared for this during our cultural training, so you grow really thick skin and sometimes you simply get burnt out. It’s common for Guyanese women to be picked up this way, but we Americans are not so much accustom to such direct lines as “hey sweetheart, I wanna marry you.”
It’s always just verbal comments, but oye my ears get full! The other fellow volunteers get called “whitee” or “white meat.” Definitely an eye opener!