Posted by: fullandbye | July 11, 2011

by the numbers

As of this week, the first of my training group are starting to close out their service in Ghana. It is really surreal seeing facebook status updates about their close of service. I guess it is really weird because an entire post will get “cos energy” when a group closes out, and even though no group is leaving here until May, I’m still getting some of that energy from afar.

The energy could also be from the knowledge that were it not for my decision to extend my service, I could have COS’ed as early as this Thursday.

It took me a long time to achieve happiness in Peace Corps. Indeed, there were some times that were so trying that I could have told you, to the day, how much time I had left in Peace Corps, and always I looked to my earliest possible COS date of July 14, 2012. Now we are just about there and I am getting all sorts of new stuff started. Funny how life works out.

Truthfully though, happiness was something i had to strive for, and even on the best days, Peace Corps is hard. It is more difficult than I did imagine. It is more difficult than I could have imagined. It is also stranger, more wonderful, more rewarding (though the victories oft are small), and more surreal and hilarious than I could imagine too.

On a lark, I called up some of the new trainees a few days ago, just to drop a line and see how they were doing. Their spirits are so refreshingly high, all wide-eyed wonder at the marvelous and new. I spoke with one new trainee and he seemed shocked to learn that the global average early termination rate is around one-third. Indeed, Group 80 was around there, and with the recent loss of two volunteers, Group 81 is rapidly approaching that figure as well. Just as the decision to join Peace Corps is difficult, so I imagine is the decision to leave early. I don’t envy at all those who seriously confront this choice.

This thinking also reminded me of a graphic I discovered some time ago.

By the numbers.

the numbers

attrition over time

This was accurate a few years ago. I’ve heard that applications have skyrocketed in the past few years, so I wonder if the spread between applicants and interviews is even wider.

Otherwise, I’m starting to build a market for lionfish in Port Antonio. Getting some traction with local restaurants. Aiming high, I wrote an email to Margaritaville this morning. If I can get even a few local restaurants to serve the fish, I hope that a proven market would lead to more fishermen actively targeting this species for harvest. So delicious. So invasive.

Marine debris project also going well. Went to the summer camp at Fairy Hill last Friday and ended up playing a fun game with a bunch of kids ranging from a (wise beyond his years) five year old to eleven year olds. I think I need to modify the “decomposition timeline game” (starting with a new title for the game, clearly). But it was a good first attempt and after we played the game we reused plastic bottles by planting bok-choy seeds in little planting pots the kids could take home.

The environment education only took about an hour, but I can think of many worse ways to spend a day than hanging having profound conversations with a deep-thinking five year old and helping other kids to jump rope. Too bad I was not allowed to photograph the day’s activities. The kids were great.

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