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PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

SOJOURNERS Our special Readjustment Issue! By the end of 2 years, most Volunteers usually feel “ready” to finish up, but returning home takes just as much adjustment as it does starting your Peace Corps service. When going into service, you’re with a bunch of other trainees who are experiencing the same emotions as you are (“did I make the right decision?” “uh oh, I probably shouldn’t have eaten that,” and “I can’t speak this language,” etc.).  Your trainers, Peace Corps staff and your fellow trainees and volunteers can see warning signs of homesickness, frustration, and maladjustment.    Fast forward two or more years to when you come home, and who knew it could be harder than adjusting to a new language and culture!   This issue of Sojourners focuses on readjusting back to life post-Peace Corps.  Every RPCV will have a different story to share about their PC experience, but they’ll also have a different story about their readjustment back to regular life post-Peace Corps.  Whether your served 25 years ago or just came back a few weeks ago, we hope you enjoy our musings on readjustment!

Inside: Readjustment (Informal) Survey Results & Stories Be a Mentor! Recent Events & Upcoming Events Current Volunteer Dispatches Book Review Opportunities Abound!

Don’t miss the ANNUAL SUMMER PICNIC! Lemon Hill Pavilion June 10, 2012 PAGE 1


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

Your industrious Sojourners editors asked fellow PAPCA members about their readjustment experiences. Here is a sample of the questions and responses: Question: How long did it take your to adjust? Response: While two persons responded by saying, “Readjustment? What’s that?!,” most of our respondents said that the first few months were really hard, but within 4 months to a year, they adapted. Question: What was useful to help readjust to life post-Peace Corps? Our respondents gave some pretty interesting suggestions, so here’s our top 10 list of useful tips: 1. Hang out with Peace Corps folks! When you talk with your Peace Corps friends who served with you or others who have gone through a similar experience, it will make you realize that what you are experiencing is normal, and you’re not a lazy bum. 2. Stay busy! By volunteering and getting involved in your new community, you’ll meet new people with similar interests. It’s nice to see old friends again but you might find that your relationship has changed so make new friends while keeping the old ones. 3. Remember that it is not OK to sit on the roof of a moving vehicle. 4. Memorize three anecdotes to share when asked about your Peace Corps experience and keep it to 2 minutes, MAX. 5. If you go to a Walmart/Target/Best Buy/Bed Bath and Beyond/other Big Box Store, consider this a warning – you are in danger of sensory overload which will cause momentary paralysis and/or shock, and never, ever, under any circumstances, go in there without a list. 6. Continue traveling as much as you can (and delay getting a real job for as long as you can!) 7. Just say “good” when you’re asked, “how was it?” 8. Wear stylish clothes again. Remember you don’t have to wear those Chacos all the time anymore! 9. Remember people don’t really care to hear about your difficulties pooping; and inconsistent bowel movements and its texture are not a dinnertime topic. 10. Talk with your PCV friends! This is so important that yes, we’re listing it twice. Pretty much every survey respondent said that talking with their fellow Volunteers (either new RPCV friends or those who they served with) helped them feel like they weren’t a fish out of water anymore.


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

Question: I knew I was readjusting well when….. * I went for a run and no one stared or said “I love you!” * A trip to the supermarket yielded more than guava jelly and packets of soup * I still felt clean just using toilet paper after using the restroom * I relished every drop of a hot shower * I threw in a load of laundry in a machine Question: I knew I had not quite readjusted when…. *When I finally got a job and an apartment, I needed some furniture so I went on a Sunday afternoon to the IKEA store in Plymouth Meeting. I almost had a panic attack - I was completely overwhelmed by the sea of humanity, commercialism, giant parking lots, and so many things to buy. It was probably 2 years before I made it back to IKEA. * Going to the grocery store and thinking, “You can get vegetables in winter?!” * I looked at the toilet paper roll and thought, “How can anybody do that?!?” * Comparing how much things cost in the U.S. to what they cost in my Peace Corps country. $5 for a single beer or $40 on groceries here, when those amounts would support me for weeks where I served. * when my husband says to me, “Why do you think you are still in the Peace Corps?” * when I use the phrase, “And one time in Honduras….”

Hey! Check out this VIDEO!!! This is an actual public service announcement entitled “Conversations” produced by the Peace Corps – an RPCV talks about his experience to different people (i.e. grandma, a job interview, a friend, to the dentist, at the gym, to the taxi driver, on a date, etc).  Positively hilarious & true!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwuDH5BkHvw  “…beans for breakfast, beans for lunch, beans for dinner….we ate a lot of beans…..” “...never look a Howler monkey in the eye....” “....the classroom was more of a class...TENT...” ...”my morning commute was by canoe...” “...fried ants are delicious...”


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

Annual Holiday Potluck Cherry Hill, NJ December 2012


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

Springtime Service Event Philadelphia, PA March 2012

SPRING 2012

during

before

after!!


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

3/11 Happy Hour Philadelphia, PA March 2012

SPRING 2012


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there…..so be a Mentor!

The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA)/Peace Corps Mentoring Program was started in 2007 with a basic goal in mind: to connect recently returned Peace Corps Volunteers with RPCV mentors. Mentors help ease the difficult transition to life postPeace Corps, and to provide a connection to the RPCV community at large via phone, email and face-to-face meetings. Visit for more information: http://mentoring.peacecorpsconnect.org/ Both mentors and mentees fill out a survey to help find a compatible match. Matches are made based on your priorities, whether they are related to your Peace Corps work, career path, geographical location or country of service, among other factors. As a mentor, you can provide emotional support, supply key networking contacts, share experiences and adjustment issues, assist with career planning and further education, and assist in the transition from serving abroad to serving at home.    The survey is pretty extensive, so consider yourself warned.  Questions for the mentor include a description of your service, educational background and work experience.  Questions for the mentee include identifying areas where you feel a mentor would be helpful, career interests and educational goals.    While officially signing up to be a mentor though this program is encouraged, anytime you speak with a recently returned Volunteer is an informal mentoring opportunity!  Attend our PAPCA events and you’ll meet RPCVs in different careers and educational backgrounds – it’s a great networking opportunity, and a great way to meet like-minded individuals! 


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION One Year After Peace Corps By Dan Greenland, TEFL Philippines 2008 - 2010 Before leaving for the Peace Corps, I think everyone considers the implications of culture shock. In my group, volunteers were concerned about the usual suspects: bathrooms, malaria, diet, safety, and the rest. After two days of icebreakers and training videos in Los Angeles, the eager do-gooders of Batch 267 flew to the Philippines. On the ride to our compound, we were in near total silence as the bus puttered through endless slums. We all expected poverty, but I doubt there can be any preparation for poverty on such a scale. Despite it all, there was electricity in the air. After all, this is what we had signed up for. It was different and new and dangerous. As we reached the end of our two years, we were given a one hour PowerPoint presentation, entitled Readjustment. At this point, we had all heard enough from our RM and CD about MST or COS or IST or anything else. Mostly, everyone was planning what meal they would eat when they first got home (pizza, mint ice cream, Guinness, and Wawa coffee in that order). It’s been just over a year since I got home, however, and I still can’t say I’ve readjusted. Wikipedia tells me I am suffering from Reverse Culture Shock, and references Thomas Wolfe’s painful realization that “You can’t go home again”. I am back in the United States, but currently stuck in a place between worlds. As much as I tried through language and mannerisms, a 6’2’’ white guy will never “fit in” among Filipinos. On the flip side, my life in the United States will always be colored by my experiences abroad. When I first arrived home, I ended up walking through the suburbs night after night struck by the eerie lack of commotion and people outside. I scared my mom when I suddenly ran outside of the Target Superstore during a Christmas outing. The amount of junk inside one store seemed larger than my entire town in the Philippines, and the enormous people sorting through the aisles to find whatever horrible gifts they thought they needed felt like some grotesque feeding frenzy on the Discovery Channel. Even after a year, I can hardly walk into a mall or big box store without sheer panic. I’m not so proud or as to feel worldly or above-it-all, or that I have some insight into the Real World that my neighbors have missed. If I learned anything in the Peace Corps, it’s that people are all basically the same. Still, I can’t escape the feeling that I’m looking at it my American life from the outside. I can have great conversations or trips or successes, but there is still a powerful sense that I have never really come back.

SPRING 2012


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND! NPCA Annual Gathering this summer! NPCA invites you to Minneapolis, MN the weekend of June 29-July 1, 2012 for an event that will encourage you to continue “bringing the world back home” while visiting with friends and having fun. For more information and to register, go to: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/annual-gathering/

Short-term International Development Opportunity! Now is the time to be a part of some exciting short-term international development opportunities available for RPCVs and other skilled professionals through the Farmer to Farmer program. The NPCA is connecting its two innovative programs - Africa Rural Connect and Encore Service Corps International - to benefit rural smallholder farmers.   As an Encore volunteer, you will live in East Africa for 6 weeks and collaborate with and mentor entrepreneurs, NGO colleagues, farmers and others while working with International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC).   Then, you will continue communication with your colleagues in Africa for up to 6 months while sharing project successes and challenges with the broader Africa Rural Connect community.   All of the positions will emphasize 'bringing to scale' - increasing the number and size of agribusiness clusters, strengthening the role of the private (farm and firm) sector contribution in cluster activities and enlarging the impact on food security by tripling the number of smallholder farmers involved. For more information, go to http://www.encoreservicecorps.org/current.cfm


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

MEMBERSHIP NEWS - Join or Renew A membership in the National Peace Corps Association entitles you to membership with your local affiliate group (PAPCA-Philadelphia Area Peace Corps Association), a subscription to World View Magazine, discounts on travel and merchandise, and access to a number of members-only benefits such as NPCA's online directory. Your membership also supports legislative advocacy, global education, and more. BY CHECK: -NPCA and PAPCA ($50.00) Make check out to NPCA. Be sure to choose the Phila. Area Peace Corps Assoc. as your affiliate group. Additional affiliate groups can be added on for $15.00 per group. -*PAPCA only membership ($15.00). Make check out to PAPCA. Mail to Sandy. Please include: your address, phone number, email, country and years of service! *You may mail either membership to Sandra Voge at: 1939 E Zabenko Drive, Wilmington, DE 19808. She will forward to NPCA as needed. OR ONLINE: Or, Join/renew with NPCA at www.peacecorpsconnect.org (click “Join Today”. They have a form at the site which you can print and mail to them, or complete the form online and pay electronically. See mailing address below for checks sent directly to NPCA. National Peace Corps Association--Membership 1900 L Street NW Suite 610 Washington DC 20036 If you are currently experiencing financial hardships, and still want to be a PAPCA member, please contact Sandra Voge at svoge@ccil.org.


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

Let’s Eat! Upcoming Second Saturday Suppers 2012 May 12- Ariana (Afghan) – 6:00pm (BYOB) 134 Chestnut Street Philadlephia, PA; 215.922.1535 RSVP: Jane at jbehnke1@comcast.net or 856-628-4246   June 10- PAPCA Annual Potluck-1pm Fairmount Park, Details to Follow RSVP: Sandra at svoge@ccil.org or 610-696-1447 July 14- Jamaican Jerk Hut- 6:00pm (BYOB) 1436 South Street Philadelphia, PA 19146-1631; (215) 545-8644 http://jajerkhut.com/  RSVP: Stuart at sjablon12@juno.com or 904-614-8611 August 11- Chaikana Uzbekistan-6:00pm (BYOB) 11903 Bustleton Ave Philadelphia, PA 19116; (215) 677-6618 RSVP: Ari at ari.m.weiner@gmail.com or (610) 999-2193 September 8- Rangoon (Burmese)-6:00pm 112 North 9th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107; (215) 829-8939 http://www.rangoonrestaurant.com/  RSVP: Kimiko at kimikodoherty@yahoo.com or (215) 873-9996

October 13- Kabobeesh (Pakistan)-6:00pm (BYOB) 4201 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19104; (215) 386-8081 http://kabobeesh.com/ RSVP: Alicia at ademarco3@gmail.com or (609) 472-0031 November 10-Dahlak (Ethiopian)- 6:00pm 4708 Baltimore Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19143-3503; (215) 726-6464 http:// www.dahlakrestaurant.com/ RSVP: Jane at jbehnke1@comcast.net or 856-628-4246 December 8-PAPCA Potluck-6:00 pm(BYOB) Details to Follow RSVP: Sandra at svoge@ccil.org or 610-696-1447


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

Book Review: I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson (Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away)

PAPCA always supports This issue’s book selection is an “oldie but goldie” and keeps with the theme of literature that readjustment! Author and humorist Bill Bryson uses his powers of observation and enriches wit to describe the nuanced and sometimes strange things that we do here in the U.S.  and The book is a series of newspaper columns Bryson wrote for the Mail on Sunday broadens newspaper’s Night & Day Magazine in Britain between 1996-1998.  our   understanding Bryson, born and raised in Iowa, later moved to Britain and spend twenty years working of the world. and raising a family with his British wife.  In 1995, the Bryson family moved to Hanover, New Hampshire, where the musings in this book were written.  Some of our favorite columns are: • “Why No One Walks” where Bryson describes our culture’s fascination to drive a car and our uncanny ability avoid any amount of walking (i.e. driving to the gym to walk on the treadmill) • “Consuming Pleasures” in which Bryson comments on how there is nothing in the United States that you cannot buy here (and remember, this book was written before everyone had the Internet, Amazon.com and Zappos!) • “Your Tax Form Explained” where Bryson rewrites the instructions to IRS From 1040, concluding with: “To compute your estimated tax, add lines 27 through 964, deduct lines 45a and 699f from Schedule 2F….If line 997 is smaller than line 998, start again. In the space marked “Tax Due,” write “a very large figure.”   This book is also enjoyable because so much has changed since the mid-90’s and there are many references to what is becoming bygone days (i.e. motels, drive-in movie theaters, diners, the post office, etc.). Bryson’s commentary about technology in “Lost in Cyberland” is particularly hilarious. I can only imagine what Bryson would write about today with all the smartphones and wireless whatnots!   Another great, laugh-out-loud book by Bryson is A Walk in the Woods where he recounts his experience hiking (most of) the Appalachian Trail. 

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To learn more, simply visit this web address: http://www.billbryson.co.uk/html

BOOK CORNER


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

Meet the PAPCA Board of Directors for 2011 - 2012

Alicia De Marco President & Newsletter Hungary ‘95 - ‘97 TEFL

Stuart Jablon Member at Large Jamaica ’83 - ’85 Fishing Cooperative

Dan Greenland Vice President Philippines ‘08-’10 TEFL

Sandy Voge Treasurer & Membership Nepal ’90-’92 Nursing & Education

Kimiko Doherty Service & Newsletter Honduras ’03-’05 Municipal Development

Roseanne Rostock Secretary Philippines ‘00-’02 Teacher Developer

Paula Larson Speaker’s Bureau Thailand ‘83-’85 Medical Technology

Jessica McAtamney Website/List-Serve Guatemala ’97 - ’99 Agriculture Jane Behnke Member at Large Afghanistan ‘70-’72 TEFL

Huu Ngo Member at Large Papua New Guinea ‘99-’01 TEFL

Lauren Arnold Member at Large & Newsletter Cambodia ‘08-’10 TEFL

Our annual Send-Off is a big HIT! Here is a brief letter from PCV Lew Hemmer in Macedonia: Wow! reading about the upcoming send off party makes me realize that it has been a year since I attended the previous one as an invitee. That was a wonderful experience and a great way for me to begin preparing for my service. It was there that I met many wonderful RPCVs and another invitee going to Macedonia. We arrived at Staging with the comfort of already knowing at least one other trainee and full of enthusiasm having heard from so many RPCVs about their PC experiences. Best wishes for another great evening. Thanks to all of your member RPCVs and "Среќен пат!" (Sreckyen Pat - - - Safe and happy travels) to all of the invitees. I look forward to participating in your events in the future, but I am by no means wishing away my service time here in Macedonia. - Lew ----------------------------------Lewis Hemmer, PCV - MAK16 Negotino, Macedonia


PHILADELPHIA AREA PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION

SPRING 2012

Calendar at a Glance 2012 April 27 - Annual Send-Off May 12 - Love Your Park Day (8:30am to 1pm) & 2nd Saturday Supper June 10 - Annual Summer Picnic July 14 - 2nd Saturday Supper August 11 - 2nd Saturday Supper Please check our website for further details: www.phillyrpcv.com * * * *

Contributors: KIMIKO DOHERTY

‘Like’ us on Facebook at

http://www.facebook.com/peacecorpsphilly ALICIA

SHOUT OUTS! If you or someone you know in the Peace Corps has been in the news, please let us know so that we may share it with others!

DEMARCO We would both like to thank all Board Members and surrounding RPCVs for their continued contributions and support! Think Global, Act Local!

Spring/Summer 2012  

Philadelphia Area Peace Corps Association Quarterly Newsletter

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