These past few days have been a roller coaster of emotions, to say the least. The build up of this past week of training all led to Friday, when our permanent site placement would be revealed to each of us. Throughout the week we continued with safety and medical preparation sessions, language and culture lessons (which included a field trip to the market) and two interviews – one was the final interview before site placement to talk more about our host family experience so far and express and last concerns about where we wanted to be placed for our two years, and the other was our first training assessment interview to talk about our progress in training, integrating into our communities and adhering to Peace Corps core expectations. Both went pretty well I’d like to think.
Now we get to Friday. The anticipation of this day has been in the back of my mind since I first got accepted to Peace Corps in August 2017…and the day has finally arrived! During that morning, I was feeling a lot of anxiety about it, thoughts constantly running through my mind. Would they send me to the interior or keep me coastal? Would I have cell service + wifi to keep in touch with friends and family or would I be in isolation? I was preparing to deal with any of these scenarios because in the end I started to realize that PC staff would place us where they think we would integrate and fit in the best.
The time finally came for the big reveal. Staff made it into a scavenger hunt where we had to hunt down our site placement packets throughout our training center (aka Bacchus library). And the placement is…30 minutes away from where I’m living right now in the Essequibo coast! I got placed at the Anna Regina Multilateral School, a secondary school in Anna Regina, the capital of Region 2, Pomeroon-Supenaam. I will be co-teaching a health education class to kids ages 10-14, leading after school clubs based on interest and eventually start working at the local health center. Here is a map of Guyana with all the regions on it, and my home now and for the next two years is in Region 2.
Regions 1-6 are considered coastal and interior with Georgetown, the capital located in Region 4. Regions 7-10 are completely interior and those regions have little to no cell service, and many volunteers were placed in those regions. Places I want to eventually visit include Kaieteur Falls (world’s largest single drop waterfall by volume of water) in Region 8, Potaro-Siparuni and Mount Roraima (highest part of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateaus in South America and also the triple border point of Guyana, Venezuela and Brazil) accessed through Region 7, Cuyuni-Mazaruni.
Anna Regina is about a 30 minute drive away from my current host family’s house in Huis’t Dairen and about a 5 minute drive from the Bacchus Library where we train. When training ends, I will be moving in with another host family in Anna Regina. I’ve been there quite a few times already because its the place to go for all needs – bank, post office, supermarkets, clothes, etc. Below is a map of the Essequibo Coast which shows the village I’m in right now, Huis’t Dairen, where the PC training center is (Bacchus library in Affiance) and Anna Regina the main town on the coast and in the region.
At this point my mind was going through so many emotions. I felt excited because I know the town where I would spend my two years, but at the same time disappointed because I had wanted to travel somewhere new and getting explore the different cultures and areas of Guyana more. I eventually realized that although my site placement might feel too close to home right now, the school I’m placed at has a lot of students with so many opportunities to create change, and I have weekends and vacation days to visit other volunteers and explore more of this beautiful country. After the big reveal, a bunch of us volunteers went out to celebrate!
Later that night and the next morning I started getting that first feeling of homesickness. It all became very real, now that I had an actual assignment after training was over. It never really got me until that moment because it all seemed intangible and too far into the future. This is my home for the next two years. The thought of being here alone without seeing my friends and family (with the exception of an occasional visit home or visit from fam in country) for two years was very overwhelming and I just sat and cried it out. To make myself feel better I looked at my favorites pictures from back home, and a book of words of encouragement and pics that everyone had put together for me before I left. Not being close to loved ones for two years is definitely going to be the hardest part of this experience, but I know they are going to be supporting me from afar, and that their encouragement and motivation will help me get through these two years. I’m trying to go into this next week of training with a sense of determination and motivation to get everything I can out of training to help me when I get to site. Tomorrow is Culture Day where volunteers and host families gather at nearby Lake Capoey for skits, dances, poems, food, and a mini fashion show all based on the different ethnic groups that make up Guyana. I better go practice my part!
Until next time,