Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One Week To Go

I want to start out by saying THANK YOU to all of my friends and family who made my final month before Peace Corps an amazing one. I had the best month of my life. You all mean so much to me and I already look forward to seeing you again in a couple years!

Lately I have been able to reflect a bit on what has been going on and what is coming up. I have been around some of the most amazing people and saying goodbye for 2 years to those people has been difficult. I have also felt so amazing from all of your support for my journey ahead. I have laughed until I cried and made so many wonderful memories. I hope that everyone is able to have a month like I have just had sometime in their life.

So looking towards the near future, allow me to share my thoughts. I am completely and totally excited to begin this adventure! My bags are packed and I have one foot out the door. And I still have a whole week!! One week from now I will be in Indy and on June 3rd I will be leaving Indy airport at 6am. From there I have a layover in Chicago then I fly out to San Francisco. One super awesome thing that I learned today is that my new best friend - Carolyn - will be joining me for the whole flight!!! Once in San Fran, we meet up with the rest of our PC friends. We have some meetings and then some, I'm sure, much needed free time to get to know each other and relax. We have a hotel to stay in that night then the next day we will fly to Mongolia! I'll have to let you know more about that in a later blog.

So for the first 3 months myself and my PC friends will have training together. I will be living with a Mongolian host family whom I'm sure will be amazing. When I make it through training... I will be sent to my site for 2 years. What I will be doing is - Community Youth Development as a Life Skills Trainer. Basically, I will be working with social work agencies to develop life skills camps, youth clubs, training community members and professionals dedicated to helping empower the Mongolian youth. Finding ways to get youth involved in their communities, helping resolve social issues, teaching youth the skills for effective decision-making, positive self-esteem, emotional maturity, stress management, and effective communication skills. So obviously you can see the wide range of activities I will be involved in. But my first challenge will be learning the language so I can teach the youth how to communicate... haha :p So wish me luck!

I am not sure how I will be able to keep in contact while in Mongolia but hopefully I will have some access to the internet. I have recently set up a Skype account but I also have facebook, hotmail, gmail, and this blog. Peace Corps will give me a cell phone though I don't have all the info on that yet and of course once I find out my address, I will post it somehow.

Again, thank you soo much friends and family for your amazing send off! I love you all so much! My next blog will probably be from MONGOLIA!!!!!!!!! :)

Take care!
- Nate

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Plans: Mongolia

Ok, so many people have been asking me about the Peace Corps and what my plans are. I figured it would be easiest to blog about it and let people make comments or ask questions after I’ve told my story.

I have recently been accepted into the Peace Corps program. What this means is that I will be leaving the US soon and moving to Mongolia. Yes, Mongolia. It is actually my number 1 choice, so I am incredibly excited but also extremely nervous. I have been working on becoming a Peace Corps volunteer for over a year now so now that I am able to see the results/plans, it feels like it is all happening so fast. My next step is to stop working at both of my jobs at the end of April. The month of May will be a time for me to visit friends and family members. I just want to relax and take time to enjoy all the things that I will not have exposure to over the next 27 months. Ah yes, the length of time that I will be gone is 27 months. This will put me back in the states in August 2012 and if you are good at math and a lucky guesser, you figured out that I will be leaving on June 3rd. There are still so many unknowns but I will take a stab at answering some of these questions.

“Where will you be?” – Well all I can tell you is that I will be in Mongolia. I have no idea if I will be in a city or out in the middle of nowhere. I will be in a city of sorts though. Some places have only 800 people while others have 70K. Only a few volunteers get placed in the Capital which is close to 1 million people. What I can tell you is that as soon as I figure this stuff out I will post my location as soon as possible.

“Will you have the internet?” - Again, it’s really hard to tell whether this will be possible but it seems that many volunteers make it to town (which usually has internet somewhere) every once in awhile.

“What will you be doing?” – As most of you know, I have a lot of experience in the human services field. I will be building on these skills and helping others to learn what I know throughout my Peace Corps experience. I focus will be on Youth Development. My official title will be: Life Skills Trainer. I may be working with community and school professionals to help them learn how to have a greater positive impact on Mongolian youth. I may also be working directly with youth, holding group discussions about many of the same things that American kids have difficulty with (sex, alcohol and drugs, emotions, relationships, child labor, involvement in the juvenile justice system, youth independence along with keeping Mongolian traditions and customs a part of their life, and even recreational and educational implementation.)

“Training?” – I general question that people wonder is how I will learn the language, culture, and my job. Basically I will have my first 3 months involve intense training on all these aspects of my new life. I will learn everything I will need to really know to survive in my placement. I will be with a group of volunteers this entire time, working with experts, and living with my new Mongolian family to become a part of the country and lifestyle. I really look forward to meeting all my new friends and learning so many new things.

“Will you have a phone or can we visit you?” – From what I gather so far, it seems the Peace Corps does provide a phone though who knows what that includes. As far as visiting me, it is a possibility. I will definitely need some time to become a part of the community before anyone comes to visit. But if you are truly interested then contact me later after I get my feet wet and we can plan on what the best plan for you to visit will be.

“Do you get paid for this?” – As simple as that question seems, it’s actually complicated for me. I will be given a living stipend while serving in the Peace Corps. This is a very low amount of money but it will be plenty for me to survive and thrive in my environment. My real “pay” is my experience and what I hope to learn about myself, others, and life. This all may sound corny to many of you but money plays no part in my decision to take on this challenge. I want to be in a culture that I have never experienced before, learn a language that helps me survive in my environment, challenge myself to learn new ideas and meet new people who live a completely different way than I have ever even thought of. I want to see a different side to life rather than continue to see only the one side that I live in. These experiences seem soo much more valuable to me in my life than any amount of money.

“Why Mongolia?” – This is such a huge question. There are so many reasons but in the end I truly have no idea. I don’t know anything about one country more than another but I just feel a pull towards Mongolia. I like their religion, history, culture, nomadic lifestyle, music, etc. I just like the idea of what Mongolia is to me and though I like many other countries and the “idea” of them… Mongolia just stands out and we will have to see what I find there. I think I would be excited no matter what country they put me in and I think I would be happy to take on any challenge. I do feel blessed though, to have been offered Mongolia and I look forward to all the things I learn about it and what it will teach me about myself.

“Will you have a party before you go?” – Ha. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have been asked this already. I am planning on having a couple party’s before I leave. One will be in Indy at the end of April (April 30th and May 1st) and the other will be sometime in late May in Portland. Friends in Vevay, I am coming to visit. No need to plan a party because it’s like a party every time I come down to visit anyways. :) If anyone wants to hangout one on one or at another time please feel free to contact me and we will work something out. I really hope to see everyone before I leave so get in contact with me so we can plan something!

Thank you all for your support and I really look forward to sharing this experience with you all.