Saturday, April 2, 2011

Peace Corps Challenge

Apparently this was started by a PCV in Mongolia, and the idea of the “Peace Corps Challenge” is to give people in the United States and idea of what life is like in the Peace Corps. It is a challenge to friends and family back in the States to try living like a PCV for a week. Ideally this was supposed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of PC, which happened on March 1st 2011, but I missed that deadline, so you’ll just have to settle for now. We talked about it for a long time at a book club meeting, and this is what I can remember from the list we came up with

  • No oven to cook your food in
  • No microwave to reheat leftovers (don’t even think about frozen meals, those don’t exist)
  • To match my particular living situation, keep all your food and dishes in one room, and carry them to the kitchen whenever you want to make anything to eat. Also, try to find a dozen neighborhood children to watch while you do it
  • Cold showers – to take it up a notch, you can take a cold bucket shower for those times when the water isn’t running.
  • No washer or dryer – wash your clothes by hand (I usually just let mine soak in a bucket for a while) and hang them on a line to dry. This is especially fun if you are washing your sheets or towels
  • You can only use public transportation, or maybe a taxi if you have a bunch of shopping to carry around
  • Finish all your shopping for the week in the span of two hours on Saturday morning. Add to that walking between shops with all your bags to make it more challenging. Then add to that either a tropical strength sun or a downpour
  • Boil all your water before drinking it
  • Occasionally turn the power or water off for a few hours
  • 1-2 hours of internet a week maximum
  • Although many families in Samoa have a TV, my host family doesn’t, so no TV. You can watch TV shows or movies on your laptop if so desired, but no more than 3-4 times a week and not for much more than an hour at a time (because you worry that your laptop gets so hot so fast and you don’t want it to have a meltdown yet)
  • Always carry enough cash with you to finish all your shopping – nowhere accepts credit cards

And then we got into the less serious aspects of life in PC Samoa, and these are some more ideas we came up with

  • Every person you meet, you must ask them 1. Where are you going? And 2. Do you have a friend? (meaning boyfriend/girlfriend). Must be done in that order
  • When using public transportation and all the seats start to fill up, either sit on someone’s lap or have someone sit on yours. In general, no girls sitting on boys’ laps, though – that’s too cheeky
  • When going into a store, you must leave your bag at customer service and can only carry your wallet and cell phone with you through the store
  • The only utensil you can use is a spoon. It’s surprisingly versatile, although it is a bit tricky with pasta
  • Listen to one CD for approximately 4 months, a slightly different, but overall similar, CD for the next 4 months, then Christmas music for approximately 4 months. This effect is best achieved if it has an upbeat island/techno remix background
  • Carry an umbrella with you everywhere (this is a personal choice, but highly recommended in Samoa)
  • You must always be sitting while you eat – this is incredibly difficult for me to remember, and I break this rule any time I think I can get away with it.

Then we decided that we didn’t just need to put the annoying aspects of PC life in there, so these are some other things for you to try

  • Wear flip-flops (also called jandals) everywhere you go – work, church, shopping, everywhere
  • Go to the beach once a week to get some natural exfoliation on those heels because despite the humidity, you’re wearing sandals everywhere and your heels still get a little cracked
  • Eat as much fresh pineapple as you can possibly stuff in your mouth
  • Take a break whenever you have the slightest inkling to do so. It’s hot, you need some rest
  • Enjoy the greenery year-round
  • Walk a half mile down the road from your house in either direction and have a dozen people say hi to you

All fun aside, I do challenge you to take at least one thing off this list and try it for a week. Let me know how it goes and if you think you could do it for two years. Cold showers aren’t too hard to get used to.

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