My calendar has been lying to me again. First it told me that August would never end, and now it claims it’s October. Apparently there was an entire month in between that flew by when I wasn’t paying attention.
But I’m not complaining. After the hot, lazy, fattening month of August, I was thrilled to jump head first into my intense workload. School began with a flurry of activity, changes in my daily routine, and a very long set of goals and deadlines to be met.
Here’s a shortened list of what I’ve accomplished this month:
- Developed 20 lessons plans for five different reading levels
- Made upwards of 15 activity sheets, three sets of letter tiles and two vowel wheels
- Gave 25 students a Diagnostic Reading Test
- Sorted them into groups by reading level
- Made up a weekly schedule to meet with groups
- Completed a 9 page paper, a 12 slide Powerpoint presentation and a five-day PC training conference
Somewhere in the midst of all this, I also changed my diet, resumed a regular workout routine, and suffered ten days without Internet.
I’m feeling rather accomplished.
In addition to crossing off a large majority of my to-do list, September heralded a milestone for me as a PCV. During the last week, I spent my time in Mandeville with Group 84 at our Early Service Conference (ESC).
ESC occurs at every Peace Corps post around the world, and it marks the completion of a volunteer’s first four months at site, during which our primary job is to integrate.
Lots of different things happen at this conference. The first (not all countries do this) is that we are expected to conduct a Community and Sector Inventory (CASI), which was given to us as a twenty-eight page manual prior to our Swearing In Ceremony. The booklet outlines the steps we should follow to properly integrate into our communities, conduct our survey, and write our report. We were also expected to present our CASIs to our sector at ESC.
With many thanks to Facebook, I can safely say that, as a group, the CASI quickly became the bane of our existence. As summer came to a close, finishing it was our top priority. Personally speaking, I put myself on a 48-hour lockdown mode just to get it done.
Another large portion of ESC was the Project Design and Management (PDM) segment, which comprised of two and a half days of training with our community counterparts. In case it hasn’t been mentioned before, my role as a teacher isn’t the only aspect of my service. Each volunteer has a secondary project, which usually involves some sort of development with the community. As we conduct our CASIs, we’re supposed to be identifying the needs and deficits of our community, selecting a project partner (or group of partners), and brainstorming ideas for development. Then at ESC, our training is broken down into sessions that will help us get our project rolling. This includes topics such as The Community Development Cycle, identifying resources and selecting priorities, assigning tasks, roles and timelines, action planning, monitoring and evaluations, budgeting, and applying for/writing grants.
The third aspect of ESC also includes processing our first four months at site. The word processing in PC terms generally means a discussion. We’ll get together as a group or in sectors and talk about what we experienced, whether it be good times or bad, and how we’ve managed to cope. We revisit techniques acquired during PST and evaluate whether or not they were helpful, all the while providing emotional support. It was enjoyable to talk about our experiences and to hear from others that dealt with similar challenges.
And if the expression, misery loves company, has ever been more relevant, I wonder how my non-PCV friends will find this video:
Lastly, ESC came with a few extra goodies wrapped up in the package. It was great to get together with everyone from Group 84, and to see how everyone has been handling themselves out at site. We were also fed three delicious meals a day, coffee throughout, and were blessed with hot showers and an air-conditioned venue. The hotel staff was excited to host us and went out of their way to provide us with a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.
Here are my next three upcoming events:
- A PCV Halloween
- A PCV Thanksgiving
- Two weeks visiting back home