Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to help with the Haiti Earthquake

My internship at MercyCorps is with the recruitment team. And generally I’m sitting in my own little cubicle working on my own little projects, but today I sat fielding calls from donors. The devastating earthquake in Haiti has sprung forth a great response of people who want to help, and MercyCorps is responding to the emergency. It was great to see how many people wanted to help, but a lot of people also don’t know how to help. As crass as it sounds the most good you can do is to donate money, and not just to MercyCorps any international relief organization can use the help. The Center for International Disaster Information has a great FAQ page ( that explains why. Just a short message urging you to help, and if (like me) you’re broke then MercyCorps has a page on how to fundraise or you can volunteer locally in the call banks.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Getting more and more exciteed

Wednesday evening I hopped in the car and got my picture taken for my visa and PC passport (I look angry, which, I suppose, is how I’ll look by the time I get to customs) which was a total rip off by Walgreens but done super fast. After dropping off that and some paperwork I felt super accomplished. As I complete each little task this it becomes more and more real and exciting.

Shakespeare action figure for scale
Next stop was this weekend where my Grandpa and his girlfriend took me out to get some Peace Corps gear (that’s what these lovely pictures are of if you couldn’t tell). Seeing as how I’m constantly complaining of the cold in my heated Portland house, I thought it was best to get updated on my winter gear. Now I’m in possession of comfy and warm new snow boots, a sleeping bag to protect me in my unheated new residence, a giant pack that will be most of my luggage, and a nice puffy coat.

Now, I’m a notoriously light packer. I brought for five weeks in Italy in Spain what my oldest sister brings for a weekend in Portland, and I once packed for five days in my handbag. But two years is a long time, and I’m already dreading that challenge that’s ahead. Mostly everyone has talked about how they brought too much stuff rather than too little, so I suppose I’m just getting ahead of myself.

Finally I had the chance to have coffee this afternoon with my uncle’s friend’s daughter who just got back from Peace Corps Armenia. It was lovely to hear her talk about her experiences and it got me thinking about how excited I am for my own. Other than that, I had a nice time hanging out with my cousin going to first Thursday, and some family dinners.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Things to Aspire to

I’ve been given a ton of paperwork, and one of the more enjoyable things was writing my aspiration statement. Though the format didn’t leave a lot of room for creativity, it did cause me to reflect on my goals for service and why I’m doing this in the first place. As I’ve talked with my friend who is considering this herself, if I was doing the Peace Corps for one reason I wouldn’t be doing it.
Reasons to spend two years of my life in a foreign country without constant electricity:
-I’m 19 years old and an idealist and na├»ve and want to save the world
-I’ve been volunteering since the fourth grade and never regretted taking it further
-I love to travel and hate being a tourist
-I became an anthropology major because I’m deeply interested in other cultures
-I became an English major because I love books, and consequently adventures
-I was born in Renton, raised in Kent, and went to school in Seattle. Besides a brief sojourn in Italy I’ve never had that globe trekking adventure I so crave
-My career goals involve working for an NGO or joining the foreign service, the Peace Corps will help with both
-Learning a language greatly appeals to me
-I want to be challenged, pushed to my limits, and come out a better person
-I genuinely believe in the mission of the Peace Corps
Things I expect
-To develop an appreciation for the Kyrgyzstani culture and the beauty of the people and land
-More competent language skills (though in Russian or Kyrgyz remains to be seen)
-Help my family and friends better understand the Kyrgyz Republic
-Become more patient
-Become more independent and resourceful
-I expect my service to be difficult and frustrating and crazy and to still love it
-I expect that despite abstaining from my alcohol all my life I’ll finally learn to drink
-To come back May 28 2012 and be a different person
-To be constantly surprised, and constantly challenged
-To miss Seattle, even the climate, but mostly the people
-To really miss indoor plumbing

I know I have three months to go, and though right now that seems like a long time, I suspect it will end quicker than I expect. Right now I’m edge of my seat excited, and despite the mountain of paperwork that awaits me and all the things I don’t know, I’m pretty sure that feeling is going to be sticking around a long while.

Resources for my family and friends: This is a beautiful blog about Nambia, and this website will help you find blogs of other PCV. The Peace Corps directs you to this page, and I’d recommend checking out the CIA World Factbook for the basic stats.