January 4, 2010

Liberia ho!

Well, here I come back to you all like a dog with his tail between his legs after my shameful absence from updating. A thousand apologies, things got moving pretty fast during the evacuation and once it was over I sort of lost the motivation to blog. But I'm making my triumphant return with keyboard in hand and I'm looking to right my wrongs by filling in the gaps and pushing onward to brave new territory.

So the evacuation turned into quite a hectic experience (surprising right?). For most of our stay in Mali there was no information to be had and we volunteers chose to spend our time spreading any scrap of rumor that came our way. Things got pretty out of control for a while, I think the best two were that Michael Jackson was dead and that Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Ridiculous.

Life continued like that for what seemed an eternity (but was probably closer to a week or two) when information started coming in all of the sudden. One day we woke up to find that the Peace Corps Guinea program was closed indefinitely, we were homeless. Soon thereafter Peace Corps Washington started flying in a small battalion of representatives to process the 100 volunteers milling around the compound. This is where things really started to heat up.

Within the span of the next week we had a slew of administrative loose ends to tie up and we had to decide our next step from an array of options including transferring to a new country, closing out our service, or reenrolling. Keep in mind that we didn't actually know what countries were available to transfer to and for the most part we didn't really have much say as to where it would be. I must say the whole experience was rather flustering and that week saw the preferred volunteer activity shift from rumor spreading to intermittent screaming and frantic resume writing.

In the end though my options came together pretty well and I decided that I wasn't really ready to leave Peace Corps yet. So I decided to transfer and now I'm headed to Liberia to teach math again and hopefully participate in the training of new volunteers.

Before I could transfer Peace Corps needed to set up my new site so I was sent back to the U.S. for a couple months to give them time to get it all in order. I'm certainly not complaining, I can think of worse fates than having a two month vacation during the holiday season to see friends and family.

I took full advantage of the break and traveled around the country to visit people who were inconsiderate enough to move away from my hometown. I spent some time in D.C. (which is just crawling with former Peace Corps Volunteers) and also made my way out to San Francisco. It was really great seeing so many people I hadn't seen in so long and it was a good time for me to sort of reevaluate my long term plans and get excited to continue with my service.

But all good things must come to an end and after two months of being a professional couch surfer I am shipping out again on January 9th to my new home sweet home. I'm really excited to see what's in store for me in Liberia. I think it'll be a much different post than Guinea was for a lot of reasons. First off it's an English speaking country so I can say goodbye to French for the time being. I've also heard that there's a huge international aid presence in Liberia which is certainly the opposite of my experience in Guinea. There are even still UN Peacekeepers there to keep the post-civil war peace on track.

So I'm heading in to my new post not knowing what to expect. I don't feel like village life will be incredibly different than it was in Guinea, but then again I don't really have anything to base that on. I guess I'm just gonna have to wait and see.

Anyways I'm back now and I'm hoping to update this thing a lot more than I have of late. So for any of you who are still reading, keep watching the skies and I'll let you know how it all turns out.


Sheri Perl said...

Jesse, you're such a good writer! We all loved seeing you and I am looking forward to reading about your continuing experiences in the peace corp!

Stay safe and know that you go with our love and pride! Sheri, as in aunt Sheri xoxo

pcjess said...

Hey there! I recently received my invite for Liberia from August 2010-August 2012. My invite says training will be June-August in Sierra Leone. I'm so excited I found your blog, because there's not a lot of info from people who have recently served in the country. Keep me posted on how it goes! Also, I would love packing tips :)

Kevin said...

Please be sure to team up again with Butch and Fed on the propper squatting techniques. I put the learnings to recent use (peruvian stomach bugs are apparently as mean as guinea stomach bugs) and flashed back to the that wonderful training session.

Bonne chance.

Rachel Pierce said...

Hey Jess,
We miss you already in boring old Mass. Hope things are well for you and you're liking your new placement. keep up the blog. It keeps us connected to you and what's going on. Love you, Pierce clan.