Folks have been asking me of late: what the heck is going on with you? No updates? No blog posts? No pics or gifs? Yes, I know -- it's been quite some time since I've written about my life here in Guatemala (or my life at all), right?
Well, life as I know it has been pretty busy these last few months, especially on the Peace Corps front, where I was lucky enough to apply for and receive a grant to bring 28 folks from around my town to a day-long workshop on small project design & management. I and two other facilitators spent the entire day talking about numbers, resources and different ways to monitor and evaluate small projects. My favorite part, however, was having my group of Youth Health Promoters give a small presentation on HIV/AIDS during lunch. They memorized their information and spoke with confidence and intelligence -- I was so proud of them!
|"White Blood Cells", part of the HIV/AIDS Skit|
The school break is coming up soon, which means I have TWO MONTHS OF VACATION!!! Just kidding. Peace Corps Volunteers are 24/7 "on duty" which means that even though we are technically not going to be working in our primary project,we should have secondary projects lined up for long breaks. Luckily for me, I've got several projects lined up, which I hope will be fulfilling during my down time and be useful to the community. One is a "vivero" (plant nursery) project I am working on in conjunction with the private schools, the public schools, and a small colony right outside my main center. We're fashioning the vivero out of recycled plastic bottles, and surprisingly, we've collected 4,700 bottles so far! It's amazing! Hopefully we'll begin construction in late October, and have our first "siembra" (planting) mid-November. If you're down, check out our Facebook page we created for the vivero. It's in English and Spanish!
Speaking of Spanish: I FINALLY got an invitation to the Spanish language Consular Adjudicator Oral Assessment: woohoo! Apparently the invitation went straight to my Spam folder, even though I definitely tried to add all of the state.gov addresses to my approved e-mail list. Luckily, they were understanding and I was able to get scheduled for an interview on NOVEMBER 21, 2014. So close to Thanksgiving, but too far away to actually try to make any use of the time (damn you, dwindling vacation days!) Like last year's Foreign Service Officer Oral Assessment, my twin sister is coming down to D.C. We're going to catch up, see some sites and try to make some Tofurkey in an early Thanksgiving-of-sorts. I am so excited to see her and to take a stab at another Oral Assessment. It seems a bit tougher than the FSOA...I hope I'm ready!
In other news, my medical clearances are going well...I think. Remember that little snag about me having high blood pressure? Well, it turns out I don't have high blood pressure and never did have high blood pressure!
Have you ever heard of "White Coat Hypertension?" Well, apparently, there are folks who dislike hospitals and doctors (raises hand), and this causes blood pressure to spike only when said folks have their pressure taken with certain doctors in certain offices. This is essentially what was happening to me. After using a blood pressure holder for 24 hours on two separate occasions and having the results come back clear, my Peace Corps Medical Officer decided to have me test the machine he uses in his office with a separate doctor in Guatemala City. Well, the machine that indicated I had high blood pressure in the Peace Corps office the day before, read that I had normal blood pressure while I was with the doctor in Guatemala City. Thus, the "White Coat Syndrome" diagnosis was given. Hopefully this, and all the readings and tests, will be sufficient enough for State and medical clearances....
And lastly, I got a message a couple days ago alerting me that once I am done with medical, my files will be reviewed for "Final Suitability." Shucks...only 2 years and 3 months since I first sat down in June 2012 to take the test. Next stop is the register and my other FSOA next year to hopefully boost my score!
Let's do this!