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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

But, is Macedonia ready for Rene?

On September 22, Rene will say bye-bye to warm and dry Phoenix and zoom off to Philadelphia. This is the "staging," or jumping off point for her Peace Corp assignment in Macedonia: a two year placement with a non-governmental org, plus an extra 3 months tacked on up front for language immersion and training in-country with a host family.

As you can probably imagine, we are experiencing equal amounts of excitement, anxiety, fear, worry, happiness and great pride in our globe-trekking daughter (go ahead and throw in a little frustration with all that, too!) As I write this, Rene is busily trying to fulfill her Bon Voyage Bucket List: visiting with friends one last time, last minute shopping, packing, throwing out old stuff, and even spending an evening with a Macedonian family for some much needed cultural tips. Too bad she doesn't have the resources Jack Nickelson's character was able to tap in the movie; things would go a little faster, I think.

We had a little bon voyage party for her on Sunday, and lot's of people got a chance to come by and wish her well. I'm glad she had this chance to see her friends and family--two years is a very long time, and lots of things can change. It's said that some Peace Corps volunteers can never make the transition back to "home" after their service... it's that life-altering an experience for them! Heck, the tagline on the website says it all: "Life is calling. How far will you go?"

We, in turn, are learning a lot about her new host country, and lots of people are asking questions about her upcoming service. A great place to go for information and enlightenment is always the internet, so of course a link to a site about Macedonia, by Macedonians, is called for here: http://www.macedonia.org/.

Also, the Peace Corp's website is especially helpful, with general information about the area Rene will be working in: http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm? shell=learn.wherepc.easteurope.macedonia. They also have a lot of info about the types of things volunteers will be dealing with, testimonials, answers to questions from friends and families of volunteers, and lots of other cool stuff.

Rene is going to try to manage a blog...if all the internet connection stars in the universe are lined up favorably! The address is http://whereisrene.wordpress.com. She has already posted her first message, so please don't be shy! Post comments and questions for her to answer--it'll keep her connected to home, and we'll get a little education along with her. She hasn't got contact information about her destination yet, so this will be the perfect tool to keep up with her (though not as timely or intimate as some may wish).

Just so you know, she can have visitors after the initial three month training period and once she's established in her final position. It takes several month's advance notice... but the Peace Corp even encourages it, (great way to get new recruits!) Hmmm, anyone up for a trip to Greece?

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