6 January 2010
I am home sick from school today which is probably for the best. Yesterday I felt like a cranky 10-year-old “But I don’ wanna go back to school!” I’ve been having tummy troubles since before Christmas. I was on a course of antibiotics but it seems that the little bugs survived and are still hanging around. (I had dysentery - like real-life Oregon Trail!)
So what are my recent updates?
I got my LSAT score and I’m not happy with it, so I’m considering taking it again, but I really don’t want to take it in Africa again. The month leading up to the test was probably my second-most stressfull month in Togo (after my first month arriving here). So I went into the test having cried four times in the previous 48 hours. Not ideal circumstances.
It also encourages me to look more carefully at whether I really want to be a lawyer. Whether I could do the amazing world-changing stuff I want to do without a JD.
I’m going to work my way through What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles Again, really putting in a lot of effort to do the research and figure out my dream job. Should be fun.
The plan to extend my time in Togo is still looking like a good option. I’m really looking forward to being able to leave behind the daily obligations of village work to focus intensely on my national projects. Right now I feel I’m pulled in five directions at once and no one I work with is satisfied with the amount of time I can dedicate to their specific project. My academic life was similar, I was taking a huge course load and I was involved in leadership positions in three different clubs as well as holding a 15 hour/week job and acting in theatrical productions. My work quality and grades didn’t suffer, but I don’t feel that I developed strong personal relationships with my professors, which is a lack I feel particularly keenly now that I’m considering going back to university.
My national projects are going well. Camp UNITE has been a great learning experience for NGO development. We made a mistake that I’m sure many new NGO’s make - starting out with a team that’s simply too big. This is especially a problem as a core part of our sustainability initiative means that we want to adequately compensate the coordinating team for their time and effort in planning and administering the camps. With a 6-member team (plus the 4 Peace Corps volunteers who don’t get ‘compensation’) even a small amount starts to get huge. At our last meeting we decided to have less frequent meetings and do more work individually and in small groups. I’m on the submitting grant proposals and writing follow-up reports team, which I like. It make me feel good to be a representative of Camp UNITE to external agences. The initial proposal was written up by a Togolese team member, but this week I need to revise it and present it to the American Embassy with Monsieur A, the President of the Camp UNITE-administering consortium of NGOs.
Monsieur A’s NGO PAHCS is also the NGO taking over administration of the Karren Waid Scholarship Program. This is a neat bit for my national projects and means that I have a perfect contact for setting up a third-year move to a different site - to be closer to PAHCS. Of course, I will have to be careful not to step on the toes of the new volunteer currently assigned to PAHCS, which is why I hope to live in the closest big town rather than in the same village. We had a very exciting development in the Karren Waid scholarship program. One of Karren’s relatives who we’d been trying and failing to contact recently found my blog through an internet search and has agreed to join the board of directors for the US-based foundation that will support and raise funds for the scholarships in country. Not having direct support and contact with the Waid family was worrying me so I am very happy that we have been able to establish this relationship.