December 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Nepal: Packing - Nepal: Personal Web Site: Andrew Lyczak - Packing for Nepal

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nepal: Peace Corps Nepal : The Peace Corps in Nepal: December 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Nepal: Packing - Nepal: Personal Web Site: Andrew Lyczak - Packing for Nepal

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Andrew Lyczak - Packing for Nepal

Andrew Lyczak - Packing for Nepal

Andrew Lyczak - Packing for Nepal

One Side Of The Coin

Almost all volunteers take too much stuff with them. We're Americans. We're taught that stuff makes life easier and more productive and fun. So when packing up for Asia or Africa or Latin America for two years--which seems like a long time at the outset--almost all of us pack gigantic bags. You shouldn't.

Take for example my $140 waterproof gortex L.L. Bean hiking books purchased two months before my departure for Nepal. Peace Corps had sent me a guide called "Namaste" with advice for the soon-to-be volunteer, including a list of what I should pack. Hiking boots were on the list. Nepal is a very mountainous country, and I didn't want to arrive unprepared. Where I finally arrived, however, was a village where the wealthiest 10% of people wore very cheap sneakers, the middle 50% wore flip-flops, and the poorest 40% went barefoot. My $140 hiking boots attracted a lot of stares. Every single person I met or even passed walking by stopped to ask me where I had bought them and how much they had cost. I lied about the price because it was more money than most Nepali people see in an entire year. I felt so self-conscious in these boots that I left them in Katmandu after wearing them only twice. I bought a pair of cheap sneakers. If I were to do it all over again, I would go to Nepal with one pair of good sandals.

I don't know where you'll end up. Not every Peace Corps assignment is in a place where people can't afford shoes. But some volunteers do land in the very poorest places on this earth. If you do, showing up with your Sony Discman and CD collection, your designer watch, your cameras, your ten changes of clothing, your laptop computer, and your L.L. Bean hiking boots isn't going to help you very much. Almost certainly something will get stolen. Even more certainly people will think you are a millionaire and will interact with you as such.

The Other Side Of The Coin

So five years later, when I got on the plane for Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, I thought that I knew everything about being a volunteer. I packed light. I had a backpack the size most people would take on a day hiking trip, and my guitar. That's all that I had. Even the staff people sent by Peace Corps to Miami for our staging were kind of amazed.

The Dominican families I stayed with during training and when I got to my site were also amazed. They thought I was really poor. In the Dominican Republic it's important to have expensive clothes and to look fashionable. A lot of the volunteers in my group were rather surprised by this, because we had imagined ourselves helping impoverished people with rags for clothes. Instead, Christina who was assigned to La Romana told me her first day of work was, "Like walking into a Benneton ad." Before swearing in, I went shopping in Santo Domingo, and bought a new pair of shoes.

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 27,000 index entries in 430 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today.
Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.

February 5, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 5 2005 No: 420 February 5, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Peace Corps swears in 12 new Country Directors 4 Feb
Kenneth Hawkinson studies oral traditions of Mali 4 Feb
Tony Hall urges politicians to bring religious faith to office 4 Feb
Dodd opposes Gonzales nomination 3 Feb
Dr. Robert Zeigler to head Rice Research Institute 3 Feb
Taylor Hackford going into television with "E-Ring" 2 Feb
President Bush's past promises in State of the Union 1 Feb
Moreigh Wolf says gays cannot volunteer with partners 1 Feb
Coleman to chair Peace Corps Subcommittee 1 Feb
Vasquez assesses need in Southeast Asia 31 Jan
James Bullington says Bush Inaugural speaks to PC 31 Jan
Allen Andersson creates foundation to promote libraries 31 Jan
Joseph Opala to film "Priscilla's Homecoming" 31 Jan
Donna Shalala embarks on aggressive UM expansion 31 Jan
Thomas Dichter says Poor Countries Need Smarter Aid 30 Jan
Alberto Ibargüen to head Knight Foundation 28 Jan
Helen Sheehy organizes "Endangered Peoples" exhibit 28 Jan

RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Nepal; Packing - Nepal



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