What’s Peace Corps Like in Guatemala?

Over five years ago Jeanne served as a Youth Development Volunteer in Guatemala. Today, she shares her experience with us and the incredible projects she worked on in her community!

When and where did you serve in the Peace Corps? Did you get to pick your country?

I served in Nebaj, Guatemala from 2011-2013.

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From 2011-2013, I served in northwestern Guatemala in the picturesque Maya Ixil town of Santa Maria. At that time, you could not pick your country, and were instead “worldwide available”. However, since I was in the application process for over 2 years (applied first with my husband and then on my own), my recruiter and I got to know each other really well! So, when it came time to nominate me on my own as an infamous SWOS (serving without a spouse) candidate, he gave me the choice of a region, and I picked Latin America.
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#FoodFriday Chi-chi-chi Chia Pudding

Since arriving in Fila Naranjo, chia seeds have become one of the main staples in my diet. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that they are thee staple of my diet. I put them in my smoothies, my raw carrot cake balls, and whaddaya know even in my pancakes!

Chia seeds are incredible little guys – they’re packed with fiber, high in antioxidants, and rank as a top plant-based source of protein – and, not to mention, pretty cheap, which makes them the perfect food for a broke Peace Corps Volunteer like muaself. No wonder I’m so obsessed.

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Just 2 tablespoons have 120 calories, 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and tons of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, and potassium. Plus, once you soak them, they expand into a whopping cupful of jelly-like deliciousness! Mamma mia! Continue reading

Christmas In Fila Naranjo: Round Two

On December 26, 2016 I woke up with such a relief – I had made it through my very first Christmas away from home. I remember reassuring myself that my second year of service would be different; I would make it home to spend the holidays with friends and family. I would break out my winter boots, frolic in the snow, and snuggle up next to the fire with my favorite dog, Maple, and a massive cup of hot cocoa while the holiday tunes rang out in the background. Oh how glorious it would be.

My cute little Maple waiting for me back in Wisconsin. She’s all grown up!

But, when the final quarter of my Peace Corps service began filling up with new projects, community invitations and events, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to swing a trip home in December. After accepting that I would be spending Christmas again in my site – a rural community of 200 people – I did my best to do it right this time around. Continue reading

What’s Peace Corps Like in Ukraine?

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.

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Kolomyia, Ukraine

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A Night of Terror Featuring Ants, Scorpions & Other Bichos

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…

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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

Mexico: Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and Sayulita

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.

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On my way to Mexico!

It was glorious…y muy barato (very cheap) for all you money savers out there.

Or other PCVs that make downwards of $500 per month…hehe. Continue reading

75% Completed: Months 12-18 as a PCV

I’m not going to lie May feels like FOREVER ago.

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.

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Back in the PST days…so young and full of life.

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…

What was I to do in Fila Naranjo for another 12 months? Continue reading

#FoodFriday: A Purple Smoothie Bowl That Will Blow Your Pants Off (Literally)

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.

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Seeing Costa Rica: Tortuguero, Land of the Turtles

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.

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Off we go to Tortuguero!

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.

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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

What’s Peace Corps Like in Peru?

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!).

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