Saturday, August 21, 2004

Home Sweet Home

This weekend, my Dad is coming over to help me fix some parts of my house that need help. We don't have much time (or money) so we have to choose carefully where we are going to spend our time and my money. It only makes sense to work on the parts of the house where we can make the most difference in a short amount of time.

While driving home today, I started to wonder what would happen if we all felt that the world was our house. What if we knew that we only had a short time (to be here) to fix the things that really needed help.

Friday, August 20, 2004

How a Goal Is Changing What I Value

It's easy for me to understand how my values affect my choice of goals.

I never realized before, how much my goals also affect my values. Obviously, discord happens when I select a goal that does not match my values (but still, many of us do select mismatched goals for some strange reason -- a topic which would be fun to discuss over a few beers). I now see that when I select a goal that matches my values, a wonderful synergy starts to occur:

    Slowly, behind the scenes, the goal strengthens my values (it hints and whispers to them that they are correct). My values being encouraged in such a way, begin to strengthen and validate the goal...
    At this point I am reminded of the words of Eddie Brickell: "choke me in the shallow waters before I get too deep..."

Have a good night!

Who's Crazy?

I saw this ad for the Peace Corps and immediately felt at one with it!

Yes, I have been called crazy and weird, but I still wear my bell!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Additive Bilingualism

"The majority of the world's population are bi- or multilingual. Even so, monolingualism often gets treated as the norm."

I know that I am in the minority on this one... I have often wondered how much of my thinking is impacted by the language I know. This has led me to ponder:

  • How would my thinking change if I learned a second language?

I have talked with people about the process of learning a second language. Often times, these bilinguals describe to me, with great fondness, their first memories of dreaming in their second language. That has always sounded amazing and wondrous to me...

    I hope I get the chance to dream in another language -- I wonder what I will say in the dream -- what if I don't understand myself? :-)

The first three months of Peace Corps service are spent in intensive language and cultural training. These first months are spent living in the host country with a host family. When the three months are completed, volunteers are sent to a new location in the host country where they will usually serve out their two years working with their host country counterpart. Volunteers do not learn their final destination until halfway through the language and cultural training.

I have been given the following expectations regarding language and culture:

  • After the first three months of training, I will only have a rudimentary grasp of the language and culture.
  • I will make cultural mistakes.
  • Sometime after a year I will begin to feel comfortable with the language and the culture.
  • It can get pretty lonely until language and cultural proficiency occurs.
  • People may treat me in a child-like way because of my lack of language skills.

I am very excited about actually knowing another language, and because of some strange wiring in my head; I am just as excited about going through the process of learning a new language and culture -- mistakes and all!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Guess Who?

Guess who said this:

    For more than 40 years, the Peace Corps has sent Americans to serve their country by serving the world. America has a new kind of force today. I mean, we're not only a great country, a great economic engine, and obviously a great military, we're a great idea. The greatness of the country is in the values we believe in -- freedom and hope and opportunity. We're a nation founded on just valuable principles. And the power of the idea cannot, and will not, be stopped at our borders.
    The Peace Corps volunteers carry the American idea with them. They don't carry our culture; they carry universal values and principles that are so incredibly important for all of mankind. Peace Corps volunteers contribute in unaccountable ways to the countries to which they're assigned. They not only teach reading, English language skills, they introduce new business and farming methods, help spark economic development, promote training and modern technology, help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases. They make an incredibly important contribution to our fellow mankind.

Our current President, George Bush. I don't usually agree with President Bush , but on this topic we could not be in more agreement. I have to say, it felt very strange to type the previous sentence.

If you want to read the rest of his speach, visit this link:

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What Can Stop the Desire for More?

I have often wondered what can stop my desire for more things. It seems like whenever I buy some special new thing (that should make me happier or make my life easier) I end up having to by more special new things...

I know each thing I buy owns a "little piece" of me. The more things I have, the less of me there is for me. Here is another way for me to say it:

    Let's say I have a lot of things, and that each of those things has a claim on a little piece of me (because they require my time or money or attention...). It is very easy for me to have so many things that I am no longer able to appropriately concentrate on the care and feeding of myself, because I am occupied with the care and feeding of all those things.

A requirement of volunteering for the Peace Corps is that I have no debt, or prove how my debt will be taken care of while I am in the Peace Corps. Because of this requirement, I will have to sell my house, car, and most of my belongings. I know that in a year I will have very few things. The thought of being un-thing-ed has had an unexpected affect on my desire for more things...It has reduced that desire to a level I have not know for a long time. This is surprisingly comforting.

So You Wanna...

There is a neat website called They have interesting articles about all sorts of things you might (or might not) wanna do. I found their Peace Corps article to be very good, and it seemed to match up with what I had heard from other volunteers and my recruiter. Here is the link:

Monday, August 16, 2004

Applicant Status

I used to think it was easy to get into the Peace Corps, you just give them your name, and pretty soon you would be in a foreign country (I also used to think it was easy to get a tatoo, but that's another story)...
Right now, I am in "applicant status". This means the Peace Corps is reviewing my documentation (and the results of my interview) to determine if I will become a nominee. My recruiter has told me that I may not be nominated for a while, because I have requested a start date of no earlier than October 2005, and currently they are not nominating people for that time period.
I have access to a neat website that lets me monitor my status. Also, I am sent an email whenever my status is changed or updated. Here is a screen shot of the status webpage.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Interview

My interview was set for late in the day on a Friday. I had been instructed to bring a number of pieces of documentation, including documentation describing my strategy for handling my current debt while in the Peace Corps.

The interview was in downtown Minneapolis at the regional Peace Corps office. While I was waiting in the lobby, I read a newsletter that listed job openings targeted at returning Peace Corps volunteers (RPCV). Many of the job postings were exactly as I would have expected: English teacher needed in China, cultural speaker needed to speak to children, and so on. One of the postings caught my attention because of its uniqueness:

  • Sheep herder needed in Montana. Must be able to live alone for months at a time in the Montana wilderness...

Soon, my interview started. It lasted two-and-a-half hours. It included getting finger printed. Just as in the volunteer application, there were a number of non-standard interview questions. Questions like:

  • Would you be willing to change your appearance to fit in with a culture?
  • Are you in a romantic relationship?
  • What is the longest time you have been away from your family?
  • How is your family reacting to your decision?
  • How do you handle stress?

The interview had two main parts; the first part seemed to be an evaluation of me. The second part was a description of what I could expect as a Peace Corps volunteer. We talked a great deal about how being a Peace Corps volunteer can be very stressful, especially until the volunteer has become comfortable with the norms of the host country’s culture and their language (sometimes having only simple-level language skills can lead to people treating you in a simple or childlike way). We talked about commitment and responsibilities as a guest in another country. We discussed how even though there can be many people around it can still sometimes feel lonely as a Peace Corps volunteer. It may sound strange, but the more we talked about such things, the more I new it was for me.

At the end of the interview, I asked my recruiter about the sheep herder job posting, and its appearance in the job listings for returning Peace Corps volunteers. She said, "Ya, that makes sense."