Thursday, April 19, 2012

Close of Service

A spiffy little package showed up in my mailbox the other day – very little package. We all got 1GB flashdrives with a fancy PC logo on them that is our “digital close of service kit.” I have only briefly glanced through it, so I can tell you that it includes all kinds of propaganda for RPCV organizations, RPCV resources offered by PC, the PC fellows program (which helps pay for grad school), toolkits for arranging presentations when you get back to the States (I’m imagining my list will include Amnesty at FCHS, possibly some recruiting gig at CU, and various schools where friends teach) health insurance, and all kinds of follow up tools for what to do as an RPCV. Then there are two huge files, which are the RPCV manual (before leaving, I got a PCV manual telling me about what I might be able to expect PC to be like, although there’s really no way to prepare somebody for PC because the experience is so individual) and a career toolkit. Again, I only briefly glanced through these – in the case of the career toolkit, I didn’t make it past the index because the PDF is over 100 pages long and I didn’t feel like spending my Sunday afternoon – my last refuge of downtime – thinking about trying to get a job.

A couple things crossed my mind. First, I would like to give another huge shout-out to INVST for being such an amazing program. From glancing through the index, I saw all kinds of assessments for finding what your interests are, information on how to do informational interviews, various formats for writing resumes, and all other kinds of necessary networking skills. INVST covered this in our last year of the program, and though it’s one of those things that you never stop learning because it is continuously changing, it helps to have a foundation. I feel somewhat prepared for re-entering the “real world.”

Second, I’m also already kind of prepared for life after PC. I knew within my first months of being here exactly what I wanted to do when I left PC – I am going to get an MSW. Although the details have changed a little bit – my preference has moved more from a focus on non-profit management to international development – that plan is still cemented. In fact, it is so cemented that I’ve already applied for grad school. I spent months (it takes that long when you only get an hour or two of internet a week) updating resumes, re-writing personal statements a million times, and hitting up old contacts for letters of recommendation. Then after all the hard work was done and I had started to play the waiting game, the schools I had applied to informed me that they don’t accept deferrals (because of PC, I won’t be able to enter grad school until Fall 2013, and I had submitted my applications in Fall 2011). I figure it’s just really expensive practice. I still intend to apply to the same schools, maybe adding one or two to the list, and now I’ll just have to make minor adjustments to resumes and personal statements.

And finally, I’m still 8 months away from COS, do I really have to be thinking about it now? My first year of PC service was such a battle to “live in the now” instead of dreaming about what it would be like to get back to King Soopers and Big City Burrito and all my other comforts and routines. Now I’m comfortable with my life here and am no longer actively seeking distractions to remind me of home, then PC gives me the most blatant distraction of all telling me to prepare for life back in the States. In a way it’s a relief to know that I’ve been here long enough that I can start preparing for the end, but really? Isn’t it a little early for that? You sent me all the information for Samoa only one month before I left, but you’re giving me 8 months notice for life in the States? I realize that it probably isn’t such an unreasonable time to start planning my return to the States, but I don’t want to think about it. It really takes a long time to get things done when you only have an hour of internet a week, and I don’t need to add more things to my schedule. To make room for going back to the States, I’m going to have to drop some other things out of my schedule, but I guess that’s the first step. Eventually, I’ll have to drop everything about Samoa.

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