Monday, December 21, 2009

Mailing Address

This will be my mailing address for the next three months:

Evan Dembkowski, PCT
Cuerpo de Paz/Peace Corps
3ª Calle 6 – 48, Zona 1
Santa Lucía Milpas Altas, Sacatepéquez
Guatemala, Centro América

Buenas noches!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Buen Provecho

I booked my flight to staging today, or more accurately re-adjusted a few spelling errors to make it official. Dembkowski is a difficult name to spell, old news. I leave a little after 6 a.m. on January the 5th for Washington D.C. Since my last post I have finished working at Padcare, Inc. and put a dent in my paperwork. A section of the paperwork includes the Worldwise Schools Program, a unique opportunity to achieve one of my three goals as a volunteer. In an effort to increase Americans’ knowledge and understanding of other cultures and peoples, I will be sharing my experiences with a classroom on a monthly basis (hopefully more often if I can afford the mailing). My Aunt Maureen (Liverpool H.S.) has graciously accepted to be my match for the program, allowing me to correspond with a class from nearby my hometown, Cicero.

For a little over a week I have been a nomad, staying with friends, past co-workers, and the humblest Hispanics I know, La familia Peña. Sleeping from place to place in the NY/NJ area, I have been able to say many goodbyes. Activities have included going out dancing a few times, having hookah with my favorite Wahdat ladies, and even caroling. Jacie and Vanessa’s caroling program was great, despite the cold weather. Our group received a loud applause and cheers from all those in the South Orange station following our rendition of Jingle Bells. Luis and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the Gracie Mansion for the NY Civic Corps Holiday Party (Thanks Samara!!). In addition to the beauty of the mansion itself, the night included excellent food and drinks, music, and a speech by Bloomberg. Other visits have included the basketball and housing offices at SHU, the Garden-State Plaza, and Caroline’s new place on the lower-east side.

Since my return home in August, I worked a significant amount of hours and diligently ran and lifted at the gym, the latter of which has been recently negated. Goodbye outings have translated into grabbing a drink and eating lots of great food. Food outings have included Artichoke pizza (the best in NYC), cheese fondue, hummus, Pollo Supremo, veggie burger and sweet potato fries, Chipotle, salmon, brunch/mimosas, and a home-cooked meal of ribs and Spanish rice. I have become quite the gordito! For this reason my entry is entitled ‘Buen Provecho,’ a saying used before or after a meal. It literally means good digestion.

As I digest both the food and the goodbyes, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster as of late. Nothing unhealthy or unexpected for someone about to leave for a significant period of time- most days consist of excitement, packing (realistically more of a list in my head), and planning. Despite this fact, there is also the bittersweet realization that I may be unable to contact a number of people I genuinely care about for twenty-seven months. I realize that analyzing see-you-laters is much more difficult when a time period is set, as opposed to unknown. Realistically, we are all becoming adults, not necessarily moving on, but growing up; change is inevitable. Thinking about missing events such as Isabella’s first-two birthdays, Andrea’s baby (woo it’s a girl!), and Garett’s high-school graduation is unavoidable, but are things I still plan on staying connected with as much as possible. The overall emotional sum is definitely positive and optimistic. I can honestly say I am extremely excited to begin my service and integrate into the Guatemalan culture and community. I want to thank my friends, family, co-workers, and everyone else who have been encouraging and helpful thus far. I really do appreciate it.

As I pack to head back to Syracuse from New Jersey, I thought I’d let people know I’ll be giving my phone to my mother upon my departure. Her plan is coming to an end this month and her phone has coincidentally died this week as well. I will have my phone until the end of the month. In true Jersey fashion, give me a cawl … and no texting mi madre!:-)

This blog represents my thoughts and opinions alone and do not represent the US government or the Peace Corps.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Early Invitation to Serve

After a highly anticipated year and some change wait since beginning the application process, I have been invited to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from January 4, 2010 (staging in D.C.)- March 25, 2012. Nearly three months earlier than my initial nomination date, the news came as a shocking and irrefutably exciting announcement. The realization that this process has finally turned into an actual date, location, and project is both nerve wracking and makes the process worthwhile. Now it is time to quickly complete all of the paperwork involved in the invitation packet.

I will be serving as a small business development agent, with a specific project in sustainable community tourism facilitation. The focus of the project is to generate income through natural resources throughout the area by ways of rural tourism, environmental education, and conservation. "The overall purpose of the Sustainable Community Tourism Project is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life for participating families, through the establishment of community tourism projects (nature tourism, cultural tourism, agro-tourism) which also helps to conserve the environment and expand understanding and support of Guatemala's cultures and agriculture."

The project is of great interest to me and I am elated I will be able to provide my time and energy into aiding in the development of something which will potentially forever help a community. I also am excited to gain a greater understanding of the environment and various conservation practices. Being able to utilize (D, your favorite word) my business background simultaneously with a project which may very well be centered around outdoor work is motivating. I look forward to the experience to come and the inevitable self-growth that will come with it.

Just a quick update on my status! I'm off to bed because I have to work in the morning... another week of work until I take time to pack and say my goodbyes. I look forward to writing this blog as a way to stay connected to those in the states and as a record for myself. Hopefully you all take the time to read my adventures, or at least comment to say an occasional hello :-)

This blog represents my thoughts and opinions alone and do not represent the US government or the Peace Corps.