Wednesday, June 2, 2010

To do what?

Good question.
There is always (understandably) a sense of vagueness in Peace Corps job descriptions, but I’ll do my best to tell you what I can (because to be honest, I'm not really sure what I'll be doing!).

I will be serving as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer (PCR) for 6 months somewhere in Liberia. My assignment will be different from what I did in Zambia in that it will be “short-term and high impact”. As a PCR volunteer, I will need to hit the ground running so I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about Liberia, getting to know some of the people I will be serving with, and preparing for the job ahead. I use preparing loosely here…. Good thing I took 3 weeks off before I leave!

When I first accepted the invitation to Liberia, I was told I would be working with Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Community Health Department. The job description sounded very similar to what I did in Zambia, so I knew I would be a good fit. Just as I was getting my hopes up, creating expectations (a big no-no when living as a Peace Corps volunteer), and beginning to plan how I would spend my 6 months in Liberia, I got an email switching things up a little bit. I will now be partnered with the UN WFP (World Food Programme) and UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), working to strengthen communities’ education and health initiatives. WFP and UNICEF work through the local Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) to reach community members most in need. Click here to get more information about what WFP and UNICEF are doing in Liberia.
This was not exactly what I had in mind when I decided to go to Liberia- Ive never worked with PTAs or schools- but I’m working on getting comfortable with uncertainty (Thanks, Pema). I remind myself of why I am going to Liberia in the first place… To be the change. Change can come from anyone, anywhere, through many different doors.
I hope that by partnering with WFP and UNICEF I will gain a better understanding of what organizations like these do at the local level. I’ve been doing some reading about the “aid mentality” and look forward to making my own observations about the work being done. Maybe I can also network and get a job when I get back!

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