After literally years of anticipation and months of serious preparation, being prodded and poked by dentists and doctors, probably being psychoanalyzed on my interview answers and essays, and jumping through countless bureaucratic hoops, I have arrived in the Philippines to begin my Peace Corps service. My reasons for joining are many, but the most overwhelming reasons that really led me to do this are a desire to do something I feel is truly worthwhile and helpful with this part of my life, the desire to fully experience a new culture in order to gain perspective on my own life and culture, and the desire to travel and experience new things.
I began applying about a year and a half ago, targeting the Environmental and Water Resources program, because it was the only program offered that listed Civil Engineering as a good background to have. I initially thought I'd be going to Africa, since I had loved South Africa and just sort of always pictured myself going there. But when that program was full, I decided to not go to Africa and teach but rather wait for this program in Asia in March 2007. March got delayed to May, and I ended up in the Philippines.
My job assignment is called Coastal Resources Management. Another time, I'll explain what my specific duties are more closely, but that will have to wait as I'm still finding out. Essentially, there are very bad environmental problems in this country and the government has identified this and enacted great laws to protect resources, but the reality on the ground is slightly different. There are problems with mangrove deforestation, coral reef degredation (brought on by dynamite and cyanide fishing), trash, lack of recycling, etc. I will be working on some or all of these issues, probably. I'm still waiting to see what part of the country I'll be assigned to, but it looks like there's about a 92% chance I'll be assigned in the Vasayas, which are islands in the middle portion of the country. The major city in this area is Cebu.
This is my second day in Manila and we're staying at a resort of sorts while undergoing our initial orientation, after a 2-day stateside orientation in Los Angeles. There are 65 people in my training class, Philippines Batch 266. They don't want us to be out in Manila for this week since there's a congressional election going on and they can get violent - although there have never been any foreigners targeted in such times. At the end of this week, we will be separated into three groups for a 12-week training period. We'll go to three different areas of the country for language, cultural, and technical training, and live at homestays. After that three months, we'll go to our actual job sites where we'll be spending 2 years. We have homestays for the initial months of that, as well.
I'm excited for this blog, even though I don't have a lot of musings or even information right now. Right now I have a high-speed wireless connection but I'm not sure what kind of internet access I'll have in the later weeks and months, although I'm told it's likely that I'll be near an internet cafe (I didn't bring a laptop). I imagine I will use it as half a mechanism to update family and friends on what I've generally been up to, and half as a way to share some of my observations, thoughts, and learning processes. Please feel free to comment away as this blog goes on.
Also! If you want to send me stuff (of course you do) for the first couple months, the address is as follows:
Craig Bosman, PCT
U.S. Peace Corps
P.O. Box 7013
Airmail Distribution Center
Pasay City, Philippines
Craig Bosman, PCT
c/o the Peace Corps Office
6/F PNB Financial Center
Pasay City, Philippines 1308