ASAN is a blog of Adrian's adventures! (Formerly a Peace Corps Blog) "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." – Mark Twain
We had a Close of Service (COS) Conference about a week ago, although that is not our official end of service (will be August 7th), it was an informative meeting of several days to get us ready for the next step closing up shop plenty of administrative paperwork but also reflection of service, how to transition back emotionally and professionally to the USA, and closing this chapter of our lives and moving on to our next journey.
It was a great experience where we were able to reflect together as an entire group or G42 on our experience of the last two years. Actually just a few days ago, May 31, was officially two years in Paraguay for us! We all came the same day on the same plane, see the picture below of us as we got of the airport in Asuncion, and now we will all end service on the same day in less than two months. A few of our G members have left early for personal and/or work reasons, but once a G42 mate, always a G42 mate!
What’s in a G?
A G then, at least in Paraguay the way it is structured, has typically been a group of Volunteers who come from the same sector, our is Community Economic Development, and we go through the whole two year experience together, training, national camps or workshops for host nationals, fun meetups, and all the ups and downs, mostly ups, in between, as it is in our case. We all become very close as this is a unique experience that one has to go through to really understand fully. We also become a critical support network for all of us to help us pull through and friends for a lifetime really.
RPCV Global Network
The entire RPCV network, or Returned Peace Corps network, (Volunteers who complete two years of service in good standing, although can be shorter for exceptional reasons), is a key benefit of doing Peace Corps, as it is a global community of friends who understand the world the way we do and have a common experience. We all them almost become instant friends and in some cases even brothers or sisters, similar to a fraternity. It is extremely helpful for work networking or even coach surfing.
The other thing is that all PCVs are really an exceptional outstanding intelligent bunch, not to toot our horn to much but, the best of the best! We are all outgoing self starting leader of leaders, who go the extra mile and then some to get the job done. And really you have to be all this to be able to survive and thrive two years in a totally unknown land in another language as the sole Volunteer in your community, you have to lead to get international developmental projects done.
We are all proud PCVs and we know this is not an experience anyone can do or wants to. So it is a great network to have over achieving highly qualified international work professionals all over the globe. Similar to graduate school or college, often times this alumni network is even more beneficial that actually studying.
PCVs all have a very strong unique personality full of character and wit. I never met such a wide array of different strong personalities all together at the same time, or even in one room. They can be very funny wild people whether they are introverts or extrovert strong A types, mostly leader extroverts though but also a combination of the two, and come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes when we are all in a one room, or at the Ahendus, a concert/party we do every four months with around 100 PCVs, there can be so much energy, perhaps even too much. It really is an exceptional bunch.
Everything Coming Together
What a trip it has been then! An amazing experience to be able to serve our country and those who need the most help around the world.
My favorite part of our Close of Service Conference was at the end when listening to meditative music, closing our eyes, we were asked to reflect on questions like these:
…what you felt when you first got your invitation to serve. How excited were you?
…moving everything and then arriving in Miami for pre-staging training. Who did you sit next to on the plane? Who did you say goodbye to before leaving? Who picked you up at the airport when you landed in Paraguay? How did you feel?
…when you meet everyone from your G for the first time, who did you meet first?
…getting your site assignment during training
…your first day at site. Your first day with your host family. Your first friends at site. Your first project.
…your first major project successes after months of working at it. How did that feel to accomplish that?
…the one year mark crisis point. Missing home, family and friends. The ups and downs of service, but mostly ups.
…finishing up projects at site. Your lifelong friendships made at site with Paraguayans and all the change and good that was done together…
Then we all wrapped up into a big group hug and took a group picture, wonderful time.
I thank God, my family and parents, friends, Peace Corps and staff especially our APCD sector Coordinator Elisa Echague, our G, my country and the host country for the support and the opportunity to service as a Peace Corps Volunteer! We have officially less than two months left at site now, time to finish off strong. I look forward transitioning back home, sharing this experience, and continuing to serve – jaha, ikatu jajapo, Guarani for lets go, we can do it!