This past month was packed full. I made my way from the central valley, to the Caribbean coast, to the Pacific coast and finally back into the central valley. I also found out the exciting and much anticipated news of where I will be living the next two years!
As part of training, I went with 8 other volunteers to visit a current PCV in a small, rural, banana plantation town on the Caribbean coast located just fifteen minutes from the border of Panama. We spent a week at her site doing everything from giving lessons on recycling to having a field day to helping youth in the community finish constructing a basketball court. An experience I will always remember is the trip we took by boat to an indigenous community. The indigenous communities of Costa Rica face many of the same challenges as indigenous groups in the United States. It was fascinating to see what work other PCVs are doing in those communities and the unique challenges they face. I could write an entire blog post on tech week alone, but all-in-all the week was amazing, challenging and great validation for why I am here.
Over the twelve weeks of training, we are only permitted two nights of vacation. After tech week, our Tico 26 group took our first night of vacation by heading to the Pacific coast to Playa Hermosa. The 32 hours of freedom was well needed and well deserved. As you can imagine, being at the beach with 29 of your newest friends was amazing. We all returned to San Jose sun-kissed and tired but feeling refreshed.
After the beach trip came the day we all had been anxiously awaiting for since we accepted our Peace Corps offer…site assignment day! We went to a fancy Costa Rican country club where we found out our sites and celebrated afterwards with swimming, soccer, dancing and of course hamburgers! After lots of laughter and fun, we took our second vacation night out in San Jose that night to celebrate at an event called VACtail. All the other current PCVs in Costa Rica came to San Jose, rented out a hostel and threw a big party us. It was fun and VACtail is one of the few times almost all hundred-some Peace Corps volunteers in the country are all together in one place.
After 8 weeks of training, I cannot even put into words the feeling of nervous excitement we all were experiencing on site assignment day. It felt like sitting on the top of the steps on Christmas morning waiting to run down stairs to see what Santa had brought me.
I was beaming with excitement when I found out I will be living in a small coffee farming village in the mountains. My community seems like a great fit for my interests. I’ll have the opportunity to work in the high school, primary school and with a local women’s group. My community is rural but not isolated, it is only 20 minutes from San Ramon (a small city with many “modern” amenities). I will be an hour from San Jose, an hour from the beaches and less than an hour from the rainforest. Next week I will be meeting my project partners and I will travel to my site to get to know my community and meet my new host family! I’ll drop off some of my belongings before returning to San Jose for two weeks and then I will be officially sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer!
These next few weeks will be exciting, nerve racking and bittersweet as I get ready to leave the safety and security of my training community, host family and friends and start my work as an official Peace Corps Volunteer!