Peace Corps has a lot of conferences. Some are voluntary, most are required, but all take place in a hotel with air conditioning!! This may be the single most exciting sentence you could tell a PCV in the summer months. That, and the fact that most of the meals are provided. It’s a surefire way to get us excited about sitting in front of powerpoints for three days straight.
The latest conference was Mid-service, which was meant to help prepare us for our remaining year of service. The fact that we are more than halfway through our 27 months was not lost on the group as we gathered in Tirana. It would be the last time we would all be together, before our Closing of Service Conference in February. Even as I write that, I have a hard time believing it. The past year and a half have went unbelievably fast and throughout those few days in Tirana, I had to sweep that to the back of my mind. Otherwise, there would be some minor panic attacks setting in as I try and figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
When my group arrived in Albania, we were told that the Health Sector might be closing. At the conference we were told by staff that Peace Corps Washington had sent word that it would indeed be closed in two years. The health volunteers gathered to discuss what impact this would not only have on our sites, but also on Albania. The need for changes in the hospitals and health education here, are HUGE. It also brings into question, whether the projects we are doing will be sustainable or not. This is always a priority with the Peace Corps, however the dynamics change when there is a guarantee that another volunteer will not be replacing you.
The rest of the conference was spent going over our successes, resume building and job opportunities after the Peace Corps. My roommate, Emilie and I, quietly retreated back to our room at the end of each day. We recuperated by doing the only plausible thing someone should do in our situation. We trudged through pouring rain, bought a watermelon & snacks, cranked our air conditioner to high and watched Disney movies on an actual TV.
Sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference. Case in point, I present to you my very HAPPY face!