Category Archives: E’s Thoughts

Combating Late-Service Burnout (Part 2)

Miss Part 1?  Find it here.


Coming from a profession that also has a high level of burnout (teaching), I think it’s important to be aware of the difficulties life-encompassing work like Peace Corps can bring. When you care so much, how can you not give your all until there is nothing more to give? Instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, the more we can acknowledge and affirm each other’s struggles, the more supported we will feel. From this place of affirmation, we can then look towards steps to counter burnout, and re-embrace our passion for life-changing work.

Here are some steps that I am taking to help combat my burnout and to ensure that I am still able to give my best during our 4-month extension as well. I invite PCVs (and even those in other high burnout professions) to join me and give one or two of them a try:

 

  1. Remind yourself of why you made the 27-month commitment.

Continue reading Combating Late-Service Burnout (Part 2)

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Combating Late-Service Burnout (Part 1) 

Being a Peace Corps Volunteer demands your full attention, resources, and effort. You left your friends and family to move to an unknown land to work with unknown people. The lessons to learn and the family to gain continue to make it the “toughest job you’ll ever love.” But let’s be honest – toughest is also a part of that description. Sometimes, it’s a completely draining job. Unlike many 9 to 5 state-side positions, at the end of the day, you don’t get to leave your work at the office. In fact, you probably don’t even have an office outside of the room you’re renting from your host family.

As I sweep the puddles of water out of my house after it runs down the stairs and floods in the rain, I can’t help but remember the warmth that is to curl up by a fireplace. As we check for rocks and bugs in our rice, I can’t help but remember a clean pantry where animals and bugs didn’t run the show. When I stand on a crowded bus for 4.5 hours to ride from Managua to my site, I can’t help but remember that I used to own a car and drove to work in style. When mosquitoes make people sick and the regular fumigations worsen my asthma, I can’t help but long to be out of the tropical zone of strange diseases and not have to worry about our health.

This far into service, some of those US memories start to be idolized. The States becomes a land of dreams and hope and cleanliness and prosperity. It’s easy to forget the struggles that also exist there and that nowhere is a perfect paradise.  Continue reading Combating Late-Service Burnout (Part 1) 

5 Tiny House Principles for Nicaragua and Beyond

While it looks vastly different from the cutesy little houses that are shared around online, the Tiny House Movement is alive and well in Peace Corps Nicaragua.

After swearing in as official volunteers, Peace Corps placed us in a beautiful little casita when we first moved to Estelí. As it was a bit expensive for our small stipends, we decided to look for a more affordable option and moved into our new abode about a year ago. One way to cut down on how much we were paying on rent was to downsize on our living space. Thus our journey towards Tiny Living in Nicaragua began. Continue reading 5 Tiny House Principles for Nicaragua and Beyond

Happy Peace Corps Week 2016

55 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 to establish the Peace Corps.  All week volunteers (returned and current), host countries, and the Peace Corps family are celebrating our commitment to world peace and friendship. We build bridges between cultures, provide countries with desired technical trainings, and have the privilege of being hosted and loved by the countries and people we serve.

Last year, in honor of Peace Corps Week, Andrew and I started our PCV Spotlight series – highlighting the service of PCVs around Nicaragua.  While we hope to still publish a couple more spotlights, this year, we wanted to try a little something different.

There was this terrific blog challenge back in January/February run by Blogging Abroad – a blogging community of “digital ambassadors” who promote cross-cultural exchange through their stories, videos, pictures, and posts.  We’re super excited to be a part of this community and were sad that we were too busy during January/February (but seriously: from Allen and Nilsen family visits, MST, ACCESS Camp and GLOW, an unexpected trip home, and starting the new school year…we never stopped) to participate in their challenge.

A Nicaraguan (and Nilsen) motto – más vale tarde que nunca (better late than never).

Stay tuned for some great posts as we aim to answer the prompts from Blogging Abroad.

Happy Peace Corps Week 2016!

Support Camp CHACA 2016

For years, gender inequality has been addressed from the perspective that it is a women’s issue. Peace Corps Nicaragua’s GAD Committee hosts‪ Camp GLOW to empower young women to confront the specific issues and challenges facing them as women in a culture of machismo.  But this only addresses one side of the coin, one aspect of the greater issue.

It’s time to flip the coin.

In order to combat the cycle of gender inequality, both women and men must learn about harmful gender roles and how to address them.  Young Nicaraguan men will be given the opportunity to do just that through Camp CHACA, which stands for “CHavalos A CAbelleros,” and refers to the transformation of boys into gentlemen.  The camp will have focused sessions and activities encouraging participants to challenge their current understanding of gender roles and to be positive role-models in their respective communities. The aim of the camp is to help reduce the incidence of gender inequality-related issues such as domestic violence, machismo (which roughly translates to male chauvinism), and disrespect for women, replacing those attitudes with positive means of expression promoting respect for equality among genders. 

Following the success of last year’s very first Camp CHACA, we will again be inviting 60 young men ages 15-120 from across Nicaragua to participate in this 5-day camp in the northern mountains of Nicaragua in July.   

To make this camp a reality, we need your support. The Nicaraguan communities are contributing over 25% of the funds, but the rest comes from outside donations.  One hundred percent of your tax-deductible contribution to this worthy cause will go directly toward our Peace Corps Partnership Program project.

You can donate online through the Peace Corps website hereor you can send a check to the Peace Corps Office of Gifts and Grants Management with this form. You may also call the office at 202-692-2170 or toll free at 855.855.1961, ext. 2170 to contribute by phone. Please see the FAQ Webpage for more helpful information, and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the forms, the project in general, or otherwise.  

Even if you cannot contribute monetarily, please help us spread the word. Share our donation link (tinyurl.com/chaca2016) and/or our blog link (tinyurl.com/supportCHACA) to as many contacts as you can.  Every dollar counts.

You can help young Nicaraguan men learn to share power, give respect, and responsibly live in support and collaboration with the women in their lives. Be a part of building a more gender equitable world.

Tales from the TEFL Certificate Program: “We are learning together”

A while back, we were asked to write a piece for a three part blog series for the official Peace Corps Stories about the TEFL Certificate Program. We love what we’re doing here in Nicaragua and feel honored to share our story with the broader Peace Corps community.

Education, Gender Equality, and Cultural Ambassadors: Our New Year’s Resolutions

“What are your New Year’s resolutions for this year? What if, in addition to hitting the gym on a regular basis and ditching those midnight snack sessions, you had the power to affect the lives of countless individuals living in extreme poverty?  As 2015 comes to an end, we’re taking a look back on some of our greatest achievements and challenges in the fight against extreme poverty. In September alone, we witnessed something extraordinary – 139 world leaders committing to 17 Global Goals to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and fix climate change.

Now is the time to begin thinking about what we, as global citizens, need to accomplish in 2016 to carry out these goals.

GlobalCitizen.org recently sent out this email challenging us and the world to take on one or more of the Global Goals as our New Year’s resolution for 2016.  We’re excited to take on the challenge!

We commit to working as hard as we can to make these three more of a reality in 2016: Quality Education, Gender Equality, and Partnerships. Continue reading Education, Gender Equality, and Cultural Ambassadors: Our New Year’s Resolutions