Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Return to Innocence

There’s nothing quite like the experience of going through Pre-Service Training, the eight-week stretch of intensive culture and language education that precedes a volunteer’s two years of service in The Gambia. It’s like a return to childhood, in many ways: you are given a name, you’re looked after under the watchful eye of your (host) parents, you learn to speak, eat, and use the bathroom, and most if not all decisions about your life are made by people other than you.

That being said, the memories you make with the people around you and the growth you experience as a human being by the time you’re sworn in as a full-fledged Peace Corps Volunteer make the process of awkward integration a bit more rewarding. As today’s video will show, the journey is as colorful and exhilarating as the final destination.

Music credit: Vagabond by Wolfmother

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Welcome to the Next Two Years of Your Life

You’re right. It’s insanity. Giving up everything for two years – the people you love, electricity, Starbucks, Facebook, hot showers, a typical nine to five existence – seems ridiculously impossible. Unless you’re one of the more than 200,000 Americans who have experienced the Peace Corps over the last 50 years.

In January 2011, I and twenty-nine others joined the ranks of those Americans when we landed in The Gambia, the smallest country in the continent of Africa. For the next two years, we are strangers trying to fit in and learn. It’s like high school, without the prom. Between now and 2013, You Are Here Only is where the ultimate overseas volunteer experience gets a makeover. Using a FlipVideo HD camera, a MacBook Air, and any current (aka electricity) I can get my hands on, I’ll present short clips each month on topics ranging from cultural happenings to volunteer experiences and everything in-between.

Forget what you thought you knew about Africa, the Peace Corps, and being an American. The real deal is just a click away.