Thursday, April 2, 2009
It started back around November/December of last year…the anxiety and stress of what the hell I am going to do when my 27 month service as a Peace Corps volunteer comes to an end in July of this year. I am a constant thinker to begin with, there is always something turning in my head, some kind of idea or crazy day dream, which is good but can also be over whelming at times and lead to many sleepless nights while trying to figure future plans. To say the least I was beginning to feel the pressure as I thought past summer 2009. I came to Romania as a volunteer to see another part of the world, help others, learn a new culture and language while hopefully learning some things about myself and maybe even begin to figure out what I want out of life…in other words, to SHAKE THINGS UP a bit. Indeed I have learned a wonderful new culture, can speak the Romanian language very well, have seen parts of the world I only used to dream about and I would even dare say I have a better understanding of who I am as a person after these 27 months in Romania. As far as what I want out of life…it is a bit trickier but I want to keep being international in this ever shrinking world we live in, learning new languages and cultures, interacting with people from all around the world, help others where I can and continue to challenge myself while seeking new exciting and unique adventures. I arrived at a point where I literally wrote out a list of all the major interest, influences, skills, likes, dislikes I have regarding what I wanted to do. I have to say, creating this list was a very useful way for me to realize that I have a restless & curious soul that will not allow me to settle for anything less than I am capable of and to accept that. I was researching companies’ website from London to India, looking at requirements for graduate schools from Denver, Colorado to Cairo, Egypt and day dreaming about living on the beaches of Costa Rica all the way to the hustle and bustle of Taqim Square in down town Istanbul and everywhere in between. Meanwhile, I put my name in a pool of many other strong candidates to stay in Romania for a third year for an assignment that would move me to Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, while still working as a volunteer but not as a teacher of English. The job description explained it as a Volunteer Leadership position where the volunteer would split his/her time 50% with the Peace Corps Romania based out of their office assisting with volunteer support and the other 50% with a Romanian NGO. I have a lot of respect, pride and enthusiasm for what the Peace Corps does and represents, especially Peace Corps Romania, so I figured the possibility of sticking around for a third year could only add to my already wonderful experience I have had in Romania. While doing plentiful research into continuing my career in International Relations, I was beginning to realize more international experience with a combination of a graduate degree of some sort would be critical. Thus with my mind set on applying for a third year with Peace Corps Romania, I also decided to put out an application at The American University in Cairo, Egypt for a masters degree in International Relations. For all the work that it takes to write letters of intent, request letters of recommendation, order and send transcripts across the world, fill out on-line applications with limited internet access and complete interviews…I think waiting around to hear if you are accepted or not is even more daunting! After I sent in both of these applications and was waiting around to hear what my next move would be, I wrote out another list of what I would do if neither of these two options worked out…well the list actually turned into a small size notebook chuck full of web addresses, ideas and day dreams covering every inch of the world! Each night I would put myself to sleep with a different scenario grinding out the details and logistics…one night I would be figuring out how to get to France and learn French for a year or two, the next night it was finding a NGO to work for that would get me to Africa, after that wondering if my buddy Fever could get me a job as a pool boy with him at the Palms casino’s pool in Vegas etc. etc. Not only have I probably put a few more grey hairs on my Mom and Dad’s hair with each new idea and day dream but I think my sister and brother-in law’s as well…”You want to go where!? Just when we thought we had heard it all, you always find a way to surprise us!” they would often exclaim on our weekly Sunday conversations. Truth is, with out having them to bounce ideas off of and explain my madness too, I would have been a bigger mess than I was already…Thanks guys, you all are the BEST!! Then all of a sudden, last week just when I thought the graduate school had forgot about me…there it was in my e-mail’s inbox, I had been accepted into the International Relations masters program at American University in Cairo! The smile still has not faded away, I am very excited and proud of being accepted into their program…however I still had not heard any news from Bucharest regarding my application for a third year in Bucharest, so the nerves were still running on edge. Going into this whole situation, my primary goal was to be accepted into a third year assignment in Romania. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that is only possible right now, where as grad school will always be there. Then finally, two days ago, I received the news I had been waiting not so patiently for…I had been accepted for a third year extension in Romania as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader! I have deferred my admissions to graduate school for fall of 2010 and hope it will all work out for me to make it to Egypt. However, for now I am just focused on finishing up my last few months here in the village, savoring all the great things I love about this village that has been my home for the last two years! Then, once school is out in the middle of June I will make the move from this 1,000 person traditional village to the 3 million person, mega-city that is Bucharest…talk about culture shock! I am very excited and eager about the new life, challenges and experiences that wait for me in Bucharest. My “What the Hell I am going to do!?” notebook can be stowed away for now at least, but knowing how fast time slips away when I am having fun I am sure it wont be long before it is back out on my desk again…TO THE JOURNEY!!