A PCV’s first three months at site (worldwide) is called the Community Integration Period by PC staff. We call it lockdown. Why? Well, during the first three months at site, you are not allowed to travel or even spend the night away from your site. This is to help you make friends with community members, learn about your schools (for us education PCVs), learn the local dialect of language, and figure things out all on your own.
As you can imagine, this is a very trying time. We were told you will hit your highest highs and lowest lows during lockdown. It is also a bit maddening to be in a country for 5 months now without having done any traveling or sightseeing.
However, I realized yesterday that lockdown has really done its job well. I embarking on a journey that will keep me away from sight for more than three weeks (10 days training and 10+ days of traveling and visiting PCVs). I realized yesterday that I did not want to leave my little home and host family, I would miss my fellow teachers, and I wouldn’t get to see my semi-adopted dog for quite awhile. And I was sad. Integrated into the community? I think so. In love with my site? Yup!
Lockdown has been particularly challenging because it is the end of the school year. This means that teachers are frustrated and frantic to teach things they ignored all year, learners are not coming to school unless they have an exam, and everyone at the school is attempting to enter marks and wrap up the school year. So there was either a massive amount of work for me to do in just a few hours, or nothing to do for days at a time. I was also trying to complete my Phase 2 assignments for PC, which was composed of (sometimes silly) tasks to do each week to help me understand my schools and community. I was not teaching regularly, which meant I didn’t ever know what I would be doing from one day to another.
Can you imagine why lockdown is a challenging time? And I haven’t had a shower in three months (tomorrow….Praise the LORD!!)
But I have survived, and am prepared to take on the new school year and be a rockstar PCV. And surprisingly, NOBODY in our SA24 has ET’d during this period-impressive!