Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Peace Corps Ecuador : Peace Corps in Ecuador: DEBZ PEACE CORPS ADVENTURE IN ECUADOR

By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 9:53 pm: Edit Post

Debz Peace Corps Adventure in Ecuador

Debz Peace Corps Adventure in Ecuador


Ok, so I bet this section appears a bit overwhelming with all the text, but I felt that it was necessary. Many people are curious to exactly what I'll be doing in Ecuador. And you know, so am I! Honestly, I really don't know exactly what I'll be doing. Sure, I have a Volunteer Assignment Description, but nothing is set in stone. In fact, I've been told that the Community Devolopment sector is one of the most unstructured programs that Peace Corps offers. Nevertheless, this section attempts to answer the questions for which I do have information- such as how I am assigned a city in Ecuador, and the training that I will receive. So if you are curious of the technical information of my volunteer assignment, read on.

The purpose of Peace Corps Ecuador's Youth and Families at Risk Project is:
To provide Youth and Families at-Risk with the opportunity to maximize their potential to improve their quality of life.

It's goals are:
Goal No. 1: Prevention and Intervention.
Youth and Families at-Risk will be better equipped to meet and overcome life's challenges
Goal No. 2: Community and Organizational Development
Community Organizations will increase their capacity to better address the needs of Youth and Families at-Risk.
Goal No. 3: Advocay
The Rights of the Child will be promoted and advocated throughout the country.

Job Description and Working Conditions
Youth and Families at Risk Volunteers are assigned to live and work in marginal barrios/communities throughout mainland Ecuador. Sites vary in size, climate and distance to Quito (from 20 minutes to 20 hours). The majority are marginal barrios of Ecuador's fast growing urban areas.
It is important to recognize that the Volunteer does not step into a well defined position. Rather, he or she develops the job together with the barrio/community, school, and counterpart organization. The key to doing this successfully is in establishing respectful, responsible and caring relationships at all levels- with your host family, the youth and families with whom you work, collaborators in your counterpart organization, barrio/community and local school officials, as well as fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and staff. Strange as it may sound to task oriented North Americans, this is the first part of your work and serves as the base for all future accomplishments. Once a part of the barrio/community, the Volunteer is able to identify work opportunities and build a local support system.
The second, ongoing part of your work is to find out what the barrio/community's needs are, identify existing programs and supportive organizations and individuals and prioritize possible projects. You will need to be motivated, flexible, diplomatic and willing to work hard. It may take time for your colleagues and barrio/community contacts to understand the assistance you provide and role you play as a Volunteer. It may take some time for you to have a sense of structure to your assignment. To insure that local needs are addressed and the Volunteer's corresponding abilities and interests are taken into consideration, each Volunteer develops and regularly revises an individualized work plan in conjuction with an Ecuadorian counterpart.

Training Provided
The training period is a time for you and Peace Corps to re-examine your commitment to being a Volunteer in Ecuador. Attending training is not a guarantee of becoming a Peace Corps Volunteers; rather, it is a process that will enable you to assess your progress towards becoming a successful Volunteer. While we fully expect you to be successful, there are definite goals and competencies that you must achieve before you can be sworn in as a Volunteer. These goals include attaining a minimum standard ability in the Spanish language (standard oral exam used), technical knowledge (required assignments & demonstations), and your proven ability to live and work within the framework of the local culture (as assessed by staff members). These three goals are equally important. Not only must you be able to do your job, but you must do it in a culturally acceptable way. You will be advised, counseled, and evaluated by both American and Ecuadorian members of the training staff regarding your progress. Upon successful completion of the training program, you will be sworn in as a Volunteer.
Throughout pre-service training you are encouraged to continue examining your personal motivation for having joined Peace Corps, your level of dedication, and your commitment, so that by the time you are asked to swear in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, you are making an informed and serious commitment which will sustain you through a full two years of service.
Training will last 12 weeks. The majority of your training will be Community Based Training. This will take place in a community setting to better prepare you to live and work under conditions similar to those found in the site where you will be assigned. During the Community Based Training period, you will be housed with an Ecuadorian family and be expected to take full advantage of this opportunity to immersse yourself in the langauge and culture.
Orientation to your job assignment, your role as a development worker, your specific site, technical conditions, personal health care, safety & security, and general information about Ecuador will all be part of your training. All of these aspects will involve your input and cooperation in order to provide you with the best possible understanding of the country prior to your entry into your community of service. With the guidance of your Program Director and the Training Staff, you will have the opportunity to assist in the selection of your site. You will learn about all of the sites available and choose 3 options among those alternatives. Ideally everyone will get one of their 3 choices. The final decision may be negotiated jointly with your Program Director and your fellow trainees.

Great quotes that I either read/heard/stole from other Peace Corps Volunteers
*"Peace Corps Training is kinda like pledging a´s one of those things in life you only want to do once!"

*The saying goodbye part is very difficult. If given the choice, I would leave all my clothes behind and pack a few family members and close personal friends in the suitcase. Nudity is good for the soul, you know :) "

*Many lessons learned.. but at the top of the list:
I had an abstract notion before I left that material possessions were not key to my happiness. When I got back it was etched in concrete.

*I swear, the PC administration does its best to weed out impatient people by making the application process really, really suck.

*Let me fill you in on the three stages of your adaptation to this country. "There are flies on the rim of his glass. When you first arrive in the country, when a fly falls into your beer you'll throw the beer out. During the second stage, when a fly lands in your beer you'll fish the fly out and finish your drink. Then," he says, draining his pint and consuming an accumulation of flies drowning and buzzing on the surface, "at stage three you drink the beer with the flies in it."

*You ought to try writing "communist insurgency" in the "why did you leave your last job?" slot. Peace Corps Philippines was shut down in June 1990, and 269 PCVs were evacuated because a volunteer was taken hostage by the New People's Army. The PCV was safely returned two months later.

*Don't over anlyaze going. There is no way to be prepared for this experience. Nothing will be like you expected it would be. Everything is so much better and so much worse and totally different. Pack your stuff (it will all be wrong) go with a smile (you'll need it)and DO IT.

*When I was preparing to leave for my assignment and everyone was trying to scare me about it, a friend of mine gave me some great counsel. "What happens when you buy a new car? Everyone congratulates you, wants to see it etc. But no one ever says, 'Are you crazy? You know how many people are killed in car accidents? 'People are just afraid of the unkown."

*A Sierra Leonean explaining how the Wundu fire dancers rubbed themselves down with flaming torches yet never showed a blister, said, "You Peace Corps come over here and tell us that an American man has walked on the moon and that you have rocket ships that are exploring the stars and you ask us to believe these things. Yet, you come here, see our magic and say you do not believe these things. We just happen to have an alternative technology."

*Sign in PeaceCorps office in Dominica:
This isn't home sweet home. Adjust.

*OK, this is a gross generallity but I believe there are three types of Peace Corps volunteers, 1) those who go overseas to play and grow up (and I admit to some of that) 2) those who go overseas to build a monument to themselves and 3) those who go overseas to learn. Of the three, the last are the people who leave the greatest legacy. School buildings, roads, medical clinics, water systems, latrines, these are transient. A civil war will tear them all down. Yet, if you touch the hearts and minds of other people, if you open yourself to the flexibility of understanding a culture different from your own, if you seek to understand and to be understood, you will have made more of a difference than can be counted.

*A good motto I learned during the application process: Hurry up and wait!

*The best advice I ever got about the PC experience was the hardest to adopt and that was to go with "zero expectations". My service would have been easier and, possibly, more productive if I had. Just go with the flow. No need to prepare yourself, study up on the country, make any plans on what you might be doing, try to find out anything from others etc, etc. Just show up penniless and wide open. (yeah I can do that!)

A section which attempts to provide an answer to which I am sure all my friends and family members want to know: WHY DID I DECIDE TO JOIN THE PEACE CORPS??

Ok, those who know me know these crucial bits of information about me: I can't fall asleep without my television, I live for MTVs Real World (and yes, those Real World reruns too), I can't go more than a week without eating Chinese Food (sweet and sour anything is my favorite!), and I love singing to Britney while I'm driving down the freeway. So, you may ask, what the heck am I going to do in the Peace Corps for 27 months!!?? Believe me, I've asked myself this question everyday. Deep down I am sure I will adjust and be fine- that is, after I go through some major Lucky Charms withdrawal first. But in the end, I have complete confidence that joining the Peace Corps will be an amazing learning experience for me, both personally and professionally. Yes, this undoubtedly is the biggest challenge that I have ever taken on in my life (even harder than when I stood up to you-know-who-- no not Voldermort, but close!). I am sure that at times it will be frustrating, trying, and difficult; but also at times wonderful and fulfilling. All I really know for certain is that I never want to look back and regret that I didn't do something a little scary, a little different, or about which I feel extremely passionate.

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Story Source: Personal Web Page

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