Sunday, May 24, 2009


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Welcome to my website! This website will (hopefully) chronicle my Peace Corps service beginning on May 26, 2009 until August 2011. Right now, I am sitting for the last time in one of my favorite cafes in Tallahassee called Black Bean Cuban Cafe. I am totally indulging in my favorite dish of black beans/rice, grilled cheese w/extra garlic butter, and an order of maduros. YUM! These past couple of weeks has seen me throw my diet to the birds and eat like I’m.........well, like I’m leaving the country for two years! I don’t think I’ve been TOO bad, just worst than what I used to do.

So, some background info: In January of this year I finally received an invitation to Peace Corps Paraguay after about a year of submitting my application. Before I knew where I would go but knowing that it was someplace in Central/South American region, I would scour the Peace Corps website and Blogs trying to find out as much about the programs as possible. I research (and fantasized) about Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Mexico, and Panama; all the countries except Paraguay! Paraguay is one of those countries that’s under the radar so it’s SO easy to look over it.

So when my recruiter told me my Volunteer Assignment would be in Municipal Development (but I wouldn’t know which country until I received my Invitation in the mail), then of course I used my Internet /Google prowess to search for countries with that volunteer assignment. And my sleuthing detective work led me to Paraguay. I kept saying; It has to be Paraguay! So after a kazillion days, my Invite arrived and lo and behold: Paraguay! I had never even considered Paraguay or Municipal Development. But when I started researching, I realized that both the country and volunteer assignment were PERFECT for me! I graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration last Spring (2008) and had done an internship working in county government. This assignment will work wonderfully with what I want to do after the Peace Corps.

Maybe I should explain just what exactly is Municipal Development. Well, the government in Paraguay until recently (a few decades or so) was very centralized, meaning the majority of the power was with the federal government and the local governments or municipalities (munis) didn’t really have a lot of say-so. Now, with a new constitution, power is more decentralized with local munis having more power. But, as a wise soul named Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” So, basically our jobs as Muni Volunteers will entail working with local munis to help them figure out ways to get services to their residents in a more effective and efficient manner. But of course, that’s only the official job description; Peace Corps Volunteers do a variety of other activities from organizing summer camps for youth to starting a Women’s Club. So, I won’t really know what I’ll be doing until I get there to assess the needs of my site (which I won’t know until the end of training).

But, right now I’m really excited! Surprisingly enough the butterflies have not kicked in yet. I remember when I studied abroad in Panama, the week before I left, my stomach was in knots! I even had nightmares of me missing the plane, or making the plane but forgetting all my luggage. But this time, NADA! I think it’s because I’ve so busy running errands trying to get things straightened out and getting everything that I need that I haven’t really had time to freak out.....YET!

Or maybe it’s because I’ve had the pleasure of talking to or emailing some great people who’ve really helped me in my preparations. Maybe a month and a half ago, I received an email from the local RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) organization that they were having a picnic potluck in Tallahassee for all Peace Corps applicants or those who are about to depart. So I went but I expected it to be one of those things were you don’t know anyone and you just smile a lot. Well, lo and behold I knew someone! Her name is Deb and I had classes with her in the MPA Program. I remember seeing the Peace Corps luggage tag on her bag and talking with her about the Peace Corps. That was like over a year ago though, and I hadn’t seen her since. So at the picnic we recognized each other and I told her that I was headed to Paraguay. And what do you know!? She served in Paraguay!!! Then she introduced me to another RPCV, Ellen, who also served in Paraguay!! How lucky was that? And we have since met on several different locations and they’ve allowed me to pick their brains with all types of questions. I actually just left Deb’s place before coming to this cafe. She is giving me her backpack that she took to Peace Corps!! She’s passing the torch so to speak. So her backpack will make another Peace Corps tour of duty and I will wear it proudly! I can’t say thank you enough to these women for sharing their experiences (and time and a backpack) with me. I’ve also been emailing a current volunteer, Laara. She’s been extremely helpful as well about sharing some things that she brought, and also some things she wished she had brought. She also virtually introduced me to two other Volunteers that will be in my group that have also been emailing her. So, thank you so much Laara!

So, I’m sitting here and they of course have ESPN on. Now, I don’t usually watch sports on TV; at least not since I used to play basketball way back in middle school. But my mama and sister watch it, and since I’ve been living at home again, I’ve started watching the NBA Playoffs. They are Celtics fans, so I watched and cheered with them when Celtics beat the Bulls (I think it was the Bulls). But when the Celtics played the Orlando Magic then I did the only appropriate and moral thing, that is to root for the home team! Well, my family (are they really my family?) continued to root for the Celtics against their home state!!! So after the Celtics were DEALT WITH, I had my share of nerdy victory dances. Now, the Magic are playing another favorite team of my mama and sister, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Well, of course Orlando was the underdog against Lebron, but when I woke up the next morning to find they beat the Cavs in game one, InYoFaces abound! But last night, something heartbreaking happened; Magic had the game all but locked, then Lebron hit this once in a career 3-pointer with 1 second left on the clock! One second!!!! So this put the Cavs ahead 1 point for the win. I mean how painful is that?! And forget about the players, what about me?! I had already did my victory dances and even taunted the little cute boy in the audience that looked just heartbroken because it was clear the Cavs were going to lose (InYoFace lil boy!). But I was stunned! So, this brings me back to the present. Why do they have to keep repeating that crap?! I mean, look, I get it; it was a great shot! But just stop it already!

Well, it’s time for me to head back to the hizzouse and do some LAUNDRY! Don’t know when the next time my clothes will be