IST finished roughly a week ago, and I am just now getting my appetite back. It does not even do it justice to say we were spoiled at the PC Training Center. Three meals, two snacks, and an endless supply of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, can really do a number on you. I had a food baby the entire training.
The food I consumed: endless bowls of popcorn, pancakes, waffles, yogurt, ice cream, pizza, tacos, mac and cheese, corn bread, zucchini bread, cookies, fish, rice, beans, fresh squeezed juice, bananas, oranges, croissants, sandwiches, coke, eggs, cinnamon bread, sausage, pork, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni salad. Most of these things, I could not afford to have at site, so just imagine me sitting at table packing my mouth full. Fat girl want more cake?
IST was great and a rollercoaster at the same time. It was amazing to see my Stagemates again, many I had not seen since Swearing In. Fianar region and below all took the same bruise up to Tana (more than 9 hours away from my site), so the trip was very entertaining. We hung out at the Meva in Tana, skyped with friends and family, watched some Olympics that I was able to get a hold of, and just enjoyed each other’s company. But IST is also a brag fest to see who “did” the most work, and not having been paired with an organization that provides me projects, I have been caught in Limbo the last month trying to figure out what to do. Hearing everyone talk about how much work they have done and what they’re exporting to the States next week can really bring someone down. Especially someone who had a really rough month already. Add that on top of having tonsillitis and not being able to eat or drink water for three days, the start of IST really sucked (sorry for lack of a better word).
But with some amazing friends (Sarah and Amy <3 you!), I ended on a strong note. Lucie, the APCD for CED Volunteers, always says to never compare your Peace Corps experience to anyone else’s. While I try to not do that, it can be very difficult and inevitable. You want to show everyone you are trying to make a difference for someone in this country and many times it can be a bragging war between PCVs on what you’re doing. Towards the end of the week, I realized, that I really need to step back and realize that I am in a very unique position. While many CED volunteers are paired with organizations like COLDIS, Prosperer, Tiavo, or are started their service with an already developed project that they just pick up and ran with, my situation was different. Yes there was a previous volunteer at my site, but no projects were left for me to finish or continue, so I started with nothing.
I’m going back to site with a fresh mind, new ideas from service, and the optimism that I will be hopefully very busy these next couple months. My new sitemate will be arriving mid September, Liz, and I am going to help her get settled and then continue on the traditions that Savanna and I started when we lived in Alakamisy together. I have to say goodbye to some amazing people who are COSing. But life goes on, and so does my service. As someone in my stage would say…It’s just the Peace Corps experience.