Meet Sean, an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who served in Ukraine from 2009-2011. Sean, a friend of my brother, was kind enough to help me out with this blog post and give us a glimpse into his experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Eastern Europe!
1. When and where did you serve in the Peace Corps? Did you get to pick your country?
I served in Kolomyia, a town of 60,000 people in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast in western Ukraine from 2009 to 2011.
When I applied to Peace Corps, I gave a preference for Sub-Saharan Africa. I had taken a few classes and written my bachelor’s thesis on this region. However, no volunteer positions were available at the time I was planning to be ready to leave after graduation.
At that time, Peace Corps volunteers were asked to be flexible and willing to go anywhere – a philosophy that I appreciate. I was almost sent to Central Asia, but ended up in Ukraine – and the rest is history.
I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty positive about my overall Peace Corps experience. Even during the challenging times and moments of loneliness and frustration while living in rural Costa Rica, I have always gone to bed feeling humbled and grateful.
But after last night’s events, I need some space TO VENT.
Growing up on a farm, I’m no stranger to bugs, critters, and wildlife. As a teen, I even spent years living in a house infested with earwigs. They were everywhere.
But since moving to Costa Rica, life with insects has gotten intimate on a whole new level.
I have found multiple scorpions in and around my bed…
Came back to my room only to find a swarm of termites seeping out of the wooden ceiling and waterfalling down onto my belongings, bed, and clothing… Continue reading →
Even after living almost two years in Costa Rica I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Not only am I fulfilling my dream of being a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m living in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world!
…even though it’s either just dumping rain or the sun is boiling off my tender skin.
Since being in Costa Rica, I’ve not only had the chance to explore places in country like Tortuguero and La Casona, I also went to Nicaragua and just last month, took an 18-day trip to Mexico.
It was glorious…y muy barato (very cheap) for all you money savers out there.
I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing but for the sake of optimism I’m going to say that it’s good. A LOT has happened since May, so maybe that’s why…
I remember when I was just a trainee back in pre-service training and one of my favorite training sessions was when the veteran volunteers would come talk to us about their experiences. We were just little buoyant nuggets full of hope and determination and SO eager to know the real deal with being a PCV.
We were always loaded with questions. After a while, I noticed this recurring theme of volunteers telling us how the second year of service was so different from the first and ohhh the second year really flies by because you’re just so busy and yadda yadda yadda.
I brushed it off until my mid-service crisis hit me like a bag of bricks and I was deep down in the dumps. I was feeling useless in site and the women’s group I worked with was just a complete hot mess. Things truly felt like they were getting worse by the day and the little work that I did have to do in my tiny community of 200 was slowly slipping away.
I was nervous because all I had lined up for this amazing “Year 2” were two Camp GLOWs (young female leadership camps), which I was working on with another volunteer. While I was super excited for those to happen, my squeaky clean calendar post-July left me feeling nervous and frankly, a little terrified…
Yup, that’s right. This smoothie bowl is packed full of a rainbow’s-worth of healthy goodness and enough fiber to give you the bowel movement of your dreams.
You see here in the Peace Corps, we deal with a lot of panza (belly) issues. Whether it’s a parasite that’s found it’s way into the potable water from last night’s big rain storm or some questionable greasy street food that’s been sitting out too long (I see you empanada and chicharron lovers), we, the proud Peace Corps Volunteers of Costa Rica, have all been there.
And by there I mean on the toilet…for a long time.
Since arriving in Costa Rica, I had always wanted to visit Tortuguero. So when my friend said she was going last month, I didn’t hesitate to invite myself along.
Tortuguero is located on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and is famous for for its long serene beaches that are nesting grounds for sea turtles. Basically in my mind, Tortuguero translates to “Land of the Turtles.”
YES, TURTLES. GIANT TURTLES. BABY TURTLES. MEDIUM TURTLES. SMALL TURTLES. ALL THE CUTE TORTUGAS.
I knew that Tortuguero would be one of my favorite spots in Costa Rica from the moment we stepped off the boat. Since there are no roads to Tortuguero you have to arrive via boat or airplane (baller status) and different from a lot of other popular destinations in Costa Rica, Tortuguero has a more laid-back, island-y, hippy kinda vibe. A lot of the businesses were small and locally-owned and it just felt a little more rústico y rural.Continue reading →
Meet my friend Steve. Steve is a Community Economic Development Volunteer in Peru. I met Steve out in Lake Tahoe, California where we both worked in similar positions that focused on community and regional development (I had a lakeside office, Steve did not). During winters, we played together on a broomball team, which is a ridiculous and fairly dangerous hockey-like ice sport that I will most likely never play again in my life. Today, Steve is going to tell us what it’s like living and working in Peru as a PCV.
When and where do you serve in the Peace Corps? Did you get to pick your country?
Currently, I serve in Motupe, Lambayeque, Peru. Motupe is an urban center, like a suburb of our department Lambayeque’s capital city. We grow the most delicious and juicy mangoes, along with other types of agriculture. I began my service in July, 2016 and will finish in July, 2018 (9 more months to go!).
Women’s groups in Costa Rica are kind of a big deal.
In rural and urban communities throughout the country, women work together in groups on long-term projects to provide their families with additional income and also have work to do outside of their primary roles as ama de casa.
Projects differ from community to community but generally tend to be textile, food/cooking, or agricultural based.
Late last week, Tropical Storm Depression #16 Nate passed through Costa Rica.
While the nonstop rain and heavy winds began on Wednesday, October 4, the storm passed through on Thursday, October 5, leaving 22 people dead and thousands without homes, running water, electricity, and cell phone service.
If you remember last year in November, Costa Rica was hit by Hurricane Otto, but damage was mostly seen in northern Costa Rica, where many communities and homes were flooded from rain water.
This year, damage was much more widespread and in fact worse than when an actual hurricane hit last year. Roads, bridges, and homes throughout the country have been severely damaged, especially in southern Costa Rica.
From San Vito, the nearest city to my site, there are two routes leading out into the open world. This is now one of them.