9-8 Close of Service: The Nuts and Bolts

Hard at work…drawing stick figures.
 So, the nuts and bolts first. Close of Service is the last official Peace Corps training we attend. It covers things like resume writing, interview skills, reverse culture shock and choosing a future path. It has been the most helpful and interesting of our In-Service Trainings.
It is not a PC training without an icebreaker

Day one was all about sharing our feelings. I know I am a crunchy hippy, that doesn’t mean I like to share my feelings. I’m not big on emotions and such. We spent that first day reflecting back on two years of service. There were some poignant moments. We made lists of things like what we weren’t going to miss (banana laplap, roosters at 3 am, kiaman taem), sensory moments we’d never forget (the smell of laplap leaves hitting hot stones, roosters at 3 am, the sound of the ocean), and things we’d learned about human nature (schaudenfreudan is funny everywhere, we are all afraid of looking stupid). We moved on to discussing what we can do to deal with the inevitable reverse culture shock. Everything from speaking in a school when our friends and family and sick of listening to us talk about it, to going for professional counseling came up. There is a huge network of people and as many ways of dealing with the transition.

Day two was a bit more practical. Our safety and security officer spoke to us about the importance of maintaining vigilance in these last few months and how difficult it will be to get rid of belongings without offending anyone. I agree with that. I’m sure I’ll piss people off, but that is there perogative. They get to get mad, I get to leave. We all have the things we have to do.
Fancy fishes!  They were pancakes and very tasty.

We spent a lot of time on medical stuff, too. Peace Corps does their damndest to take care of us, which is awesome. They do a good job of it, too. After Peace Corps, we have insurance options and plans to choose from. I presume none of them involve a 24/7 on-call staff person and free medical advice/consultation/prescriptions and everything else. That really is too bad. Still, we need to go over what things we can claim under what and what things fall under insurance. That took a few hours.

Today, we spent the morning going over resumes and talking about cover letters and interview skills. We got lucky. The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Papau New Guinea embassy is in town. He came by and spoke to us about how the Foreign Service works. He was informative. I had a nice chat with his husband as well, especially since we’d had kava with them on Wednesday. (I lead a very odd life these days.) He re-sparked my interest in the Foreign Service so we’ll see about the exam or what exactly that means.
The IT Crowd, PC Vanuatu style

This afternoon, we spent more time sharing our feelings. Really, this afternoon was a chance to talk about highlights of our service. It was inspiring to hear some of the other stories. There were some I’d heard before, but a lot of the stories were successes I hadn’t heard of. The chance to celebrate our minor successes was good.

Tonight was a different sort of celebration. Tonight was the goodbyes. While, really tomorrow is the good byes. Tonight was karaoke on a boat while we cruised around the lagoon. Tomorrow is a Fijian pig roast. Then it is back to the islands briefly. Most people are leaving in early October, before Jason and I move to Vila. I am sad about this. I will discuss feelings in a different post.

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