Sunday, November 1, 2009

And so it is..

Well, on Wednesday October 14th, I planned on getting out on the road early to head south to Asheville, NC to see my lovely ol' roomie from college, Ms. Alison Karr get married to Mr. James Smoke. So I woke up early, had a good jog, a shower, loaded up the cooler and packed up my car and, minutes before starting on my road trip south, I got online to check some directions when I saw an email in my inbox: "Peace Corps has updated your Application Status account. Log in to your toolkit to see the latest information." Achugugerlishkgrugack!!! Gack! Gah, ugh, holy mother of frickfrack!! I madly clicked away and got onto my online account and whuddyaknow, it said: "congratulations you have been invited to become a peace corps volunteer, your invitation was sent oct. 13"...HOLY MOLY!!!! But, but, where are they sending me? When do I depart!? Wha, whu..what do I do? I was just about to head south and now I know that there's a letter with my future sealed inside floating it's way to Matt's apartment in DC where I have all my Peace Corps mail sent. Will it get there today? I can't leave when I know it's so close, there's no way I can wait til I get back and I sure as hell want to hold that letter in my hands!! Will it arrive today willit arrivetoday?? Well, the status said the letter was sent the day before and they're based just outside of DC so it just HAS to arrive today, it HAS TO!!! Ohman, I called everyone..Mom, Dad, Matt, and NO ONE ANSWERED!!! Finally I got my Megan and she was there for me, so excited, so supportive, but aw she was sick and groggy but man she was just what I needed to intercept some of this insania! I'd just talked to her yesterday saying who knows when I'll know, poor me and suddenly it's in the mail! Woohoo! So I called Matt about three thousand times (it was about 10am at that point) and got him as he got up from dead sleep to go to the loo. I had to know "what time does your mail arrive??" Well he said it varied and I told him I'd head to DC to see if it came today, basically my life is flexible at the moment and I told Birdman Andrew that I was passing through his area and he invited me to stay tonight on my way to Asheville and Alison's wedding (which wasn't til saturday, 17th). Well I called and told him I might be a bit late, waiting for this letter that had BETTER BE IN THE MAIL THIS VERY INSTANT and I headed to DC. On my way I decided to stop for coffee and swung through an outdoor store since I didn't expect the mail to arrive til later in the afternoon. Well as I moseyed back to the car I got a call from Matt after reading 2 texts that said he was up and about (I was thinking I was giving him time to sleep in!) and when he heard I was in Rockville he was like "what the hell are you doing still so far away! I didn't want to tell you but the letter is here so get your butt down here!!!" craaaaaaap!! I dove back into the car and sped up the pike singing along to music blaring as I tried to drive not as recklessly as I so freakin wanted to. My wild energy went into my singing and yelling at slow cars and traffic and road work and pedestrians as I crept from one red light to another on Georgia Ave into DC. Gaaah!! I finally got to O st and was greeted by my smiling brother. We walked up to his apartment and I jiggered through the door over to the counter and there it was: a big white envelope. Uhguh..uh. I decided to go to the bathroom. And there I sat, thinking, "no matter what it says, this will be amazing, get ready for a whole new step in this wild unpredictable ride of life...and if it's Somoa (where they recently had earthquakes and tsunamis to which I imagine they'll want to route Peace Corps volunteers to help) I won't be sad, even if it means I won't learn spanish." Okay! So back to business! I took the package and Matt and I ripped it open, ahhhh! A big blue envelope that held my future "Peace Corps invites you to serve". I opened it and lifted out the letter in the front, shaking, Dear Stacey..blah blah, Guatemala, blah...wha..I'M GOING TO GUUUUAATEMAAALAAAA!!!!" I screeched it bouncing into my brothers arms!!! The feeling, the future, the wonder, pulled from my very depths, I couldn't believe it!!! Oh, it was unreal. I can't believe it. I don't know anything about Guatemala other than it's Central America, I'll not be too horribly far away for friends and family to come and visit, I'll be in the tropics, I'll learn spanish, there will be beautiful birds, oh my god. So back to the invitation packet: it had some other goodies as well..."Your Assignment; Country: Guatemala; Program: Sustainable Community Tourism; Job Title: Community Tourism Facilitator; Orientation Dates 1/04/09
Yes!! Jaaaanuaaarrry!!! I'll be home for Christmas! Parents will be so happy! Matt was so happy! And what the hell is sustainable community tourism?? So now we settled in to look over this fun explained the project: The overall purpose of the Sustainable Community Tourism Project is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of participating families, through the establishment of sustainable community tourism projects (nature tourism, cultural tourism, and agro-tourism) which also help to conserve the environment and expand understanding and support of Guatemala's cultures and agriculture" "The goals of the Sustainable Community Tourism Project are: 1. Communities will identifu and develop sustainable environmental projects to generate income (eg. tour services, crafts, recycled material, timber and non-timber products) and increase practices of sustainability principles. 2. The members of the community associations, education community (schools) and youth groups will carry out environmental conservation practices in tourist site and community. Activities can include (wait til you read this..)

a. facilitate the conservation and management of natural protected areas or reserves

b. gather info on the local flora and fauna species and attractions

c. train park guards on flora and fauna management

d. facilitate the implementation of community ecotourism projects based on local cultural, natural and social characteristics

e. train ecotourism associations on how to start, implement and organize ecotourism as an income generation and conservation activity; and how to prepare and implement quality standards for ecotourism and handicrafts

f. train local people and park guards in activities/services related to ecotourism such as: guiding tourists, human relations, orientation, security, information, lodging, meals, transportation, etc. also, train forest rangers, guides and local schoolteachers in the successful development of interpretive tours for students in nature reserves or ecotourism sites

g. train women/men's groups in small business

h. prepare pamphlets, posters or websites to promote ecotourism sites or regional routes. provide updated information for international publications such as the Loney Planet books.

i. organizeand train ecological youth groups on best environmental practices, leadership, self esteem, arts, hiv prevention in collaboration with counterparts

j. prepare with counterparts eco-camps for youth ecological groups based on their needs

k. train organized groups to write effective conservation proposals for national and international donors

l. help community groups establish annual work goals, activities, and indicators. Also, participate in planning, coordination and training meetings convened by their Host Agency, community groups and Peace Corps

m. take photographs and videos of ecotourism and income-generating projects (trails, attractions, crafts, etc) for monitoring and evaluation.

n. train and assist counterparts and work groups on markets and feasibility studies of ecotourism and income generation projects

o. carry out visits, demonstrations, popular theater and skits with tourism associations, tourist host families, guides and forest rangers and ecotourism services (preparing food, basic lodging, hygine and security)

p. make demonstrations and support the community, tourist host families and forest rangers in the practice of the 4 Rs with examples such as compost pits, art with recycled materials, etc.

q. train the education community on the creation and implementation of community or school emergency plans depending on local vulnerability

r. facilitate and train community leaders, associations, community development committees and teachers on small environmental projects and lesson plans

s. organize or facilitate community or school events related to environmental protection in the celebration of earth day, etc

t. collect info and keep records of changes observed in organized groups on environmental actions

u. write reports and submit them periodically to agencies and PC indicating participants by gender and progress mad in ecotourism or income-generating projects

...these things are all amazing sounding and what's more, they're things I was hoping to do in my free time but turns out, it'll be MY JOB!!!! Good grief good grief. I was so glad my brother was there, he made me coffee and I bounced around some more, looking up pictures of guatemala on the computer and maps and stuff and then back over to him and we looked at the assignment book and all the different handbooks, that for the volunteer as well as one for the family. So now I have 10 days to look over it all and decide that I definitely want to do it, haha. I'll be calling them momentarily..but seriously they like you to look over it all-no surprises. Nevertheless, I need to start heading southward. So I bid my loving brother goodbye and I drove of out DC into hideous traffic and 8 hours of pouring rain. Lovely!

1 comment:

  1. Stacey, thanks for the message. Really looking forward to meeting you. What a small world. I should call Courtney soon. I'm in the U.S. visiting my family up in Oregon.

    Can you email me some time so I have your email address and we can get in touch more easily?

    Mine is

    You're going to love Guatemala!!


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