Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Last Straw

In the waning moments on this last day of service my "description of service" sees completion. Generally I don't procrastinate; in this case I have. The thought of compressing two years of experience - frustration, elation, success, failure, memories, hopes, fears, and rice - into a one page "DOS" drained any energy available for such a task.

There are several reasons for this aversion: 1. we are expected to brag about our accomplishments, 2. it will serve as the only official record of my service retained by the Peace Corps, ad infinitum, and 3. it is the final, incontrovertible, symbol of the end. The end here is more obvious than it was in the goodbye's to the people with whom I have lived and worked for the past two years - the possibility of future contact and the ability to recall and relive lubricates our exit. With the DOS, we write it, have it signed, and the deed is done.

A few moments from now I will cease to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. It's a little like graduating from college or high school, but more final. At this time a gulf of culture and distance a thousand miles wide breaks into a great yawn, even as the future opens up ahead- the sense of vertigo and excitement at the unknown is overwhelming, while nostalgia and sadness for what remains so close intermingle.

And so, my DOS is complete. Every dry, boring, sterile sentence. Nothing of my time is contained within these words; time which these sentences are superficially intended to encompass. I suppose that ultimately this is true for any experience - how can one summarize or edit their moments into a format that does justice to what has occurred? They can't. Thankfully through this process, meaning the whole nine yards, I have learned the value of remembering and of being thankful for what is happening (not only what has passed). All that remains is to bring this home.

My service, in a nutshell:

After a competitive application process stressing applicant skills, adaptability and cross-cultural sensitivity, Peter Elling began Peace Corps training on February 1st, 2003 at Dumadag Farm, Tagbilaran, Bohol and completed a 9 week training program. Trainees in Mr. Elling's sector, Community-based Conservation of Important Biodiversity Areas (CCIBA), received 124 hours of technical training, 104 hours of language training, 7.5 hours of formal cultural sessions, 22 hours of health and personal management training, and 16 hours devoted to safety and security issues. At the end of his training period, Mr. Elling tested at the Intermediate-High level of language functionality in Ilocano.

Peter Elling was enrolled in the Peace Corps on April 5th, 2003. He was assigned to the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya during his service in the Philippines. During his tenure as a PCV, Mr. Elling implemented his own projects in addition to assisting other PCV projects, resulting in a varied volunteer experience.

Mr. Elling offered his skill as an environmental educator during environmental education training/material development sessions with a local NGO (Sang-at Salug Outdoor Club), as well as during two (2) week long youth camp experiences; one occurring in Kadaclan, Mt. Province, and the other in Capisaan, Nueva Vizcaya. Both elementary and high school students attended these camps. Mr. Elling assisted a local NGO (FRENDS) in the procurement of teaching tools and techniques to aid in their watershed-conservation/education efforts; one such watershed management training was presented in Paitan, Bayombong. Mr. Elling guided the PTO in the development of a Project Development and Management training offered to local residents and elected officials of Bayombong.

Mr. Elling instructed local community members how to design, build, and use wood-fired clay ovens. Two such ovens were constructed in Bayombong; two others in St. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. The ovens in St. Fe were integrated into the schools' curriculum, allowing the 3rd and 4th year high-school students to learn the basics of bread production. Several designs using local materials were utilized in the construction of these ovens; three were built with a simple down draft design ranging 16"-28" in inner diameter, and one with a cross-draft design with an inner diameter of 36".

Mr. Elling taught the basics of theatre, staging, and drama for a high school dance troupe located in St. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. The dancers have since competed in several local competitions and performed on numerous occasions locally; this program was part of a cultural preservation effort coordinated by the school (the Kalahan Education Foundation) and the local government. Optional basic music appreciation sessions were offered wherein Mr. Elling introduced interested students to jazz, symphonic music, and musical theatre.

Mr. Elling assisted four schools (three high schools and one elementary school) in the painting of large political world maps, equipping local teachers to use these maps throughout their curriculum. Mr. Elling supervised 13-18 year old students as they drew, painted, and labeled the maps in prominent areas of their schools. With Peter's assistance three of these schools were connected with local and international book donating agencies; the schools received textbooks and other teaching materials intended for teacher use while writing their lesson plans.
Pursuant to Section 5(f) of the Peace Corps Act, 22 U.S.C. 2504(f) as amended, any former volunteer employed by the United States Government following his/her Peace Corps Volunteer service is entitled to have any period of satisfactory Peace Corps Volunteer service credited for purposes of retirement, seniority, reduction in force, leave and other privileges based on length of Government service. Peace Corps service shall not be credited toward completion of the probationary or trial period or completion of any service requirement for career appointment.

This is to certify in accordance with Executive Order No. 1103 of April 10, 1963, that Peter Elling served satisfactorily as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His service ended on March 16th, 2005. He is therefore eligible to be appointed as a career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service on a non-competitive basis. This benefit under the Executive Order entitlement extends for a period of one year, except that the employing agency may extend the period for up to three years for a former Volunteer who enters military service, pursues studies at a recognized institution of higher learning or engages in other activities which in the view of the appointing authority warrants extension of the period.

The End.


Anonymous ann elling said...

congratulations on all that you've achieved and learned during your time in the phillipines. it's really quite amazing. i love you.
ann olivia

12:55 PM, March 16, 2005  
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