Last week the first of my group, group 127, COSed. If COS wasn’t real before it definitely is now since people are actually closing out their service and leaving for jobs, home, travel, etc. In just under a month I too will join the ranks of RPCVs from my group. Now that people are actually COSing it’s time that I get serious about packing. For most of the past year I’ve been bringing clothing donations to the PCV hobbit hole in the PCV lounge since I have no intention of bringing back most, if not all, of the clothes I’ve worn here in Thailand.I have never been a fan of polos so the fact that I’ve spent the last two years mostly wearing polos to work everyday has been bothersome at best, downright awful at worst. So it goes without saying that the polos are staying here. In addition to leaving clothing I’ve started to go through my possessions and find things that other PCVs might find useful. In fact, some of my things have already found new homes. Aside from beginning to pack it’s also time to take a million pictures. Throughout my service I’ve taken many photos but now it’s time to take pictures of all those ordinary everyday things that I’m sure that I will either end up missing or want to show people back home. I’ve also created some homemade postcards so that the kids could write me messages that I’m going to bring back home with me. I can’t wait to see what they write me.
So I know it’s been a while, the end of service can be a surprisingly busy time for PCVs. Around Thanksgiving my group had our COS, Close of Service conference, the COS conference happens a few months and it’s where you learn about all the paperwork and other closing out procedures you must finish before you are officially done with your Peace Corps service. There is a surprising amount of paperwork and number of steps that need to be completed between COS conference and your actual end date. COS conference is also a time to reflect on your service and think about what you plan to do after service (work, travel, school, etc.); maybe you wished your service turned out completely different than what actually happened or maybe your service turned out exactly how you wanted it, either way COS becomes a time to reflect on what’s happened, how you’ve changed, what you’ve learned, etc. After COS it will probably impossible to get your entire group together again before the end of service since there are often a couple of COS dates to choose from so it’s also the time to say goodbye to this group of people who’ve been on this crazy ride called Peace Corps with you since the beginning. You might not be close to all these people but you’re connected now because of the common experiences you’ve all shared that will be hard for others to truly “get” unless they’ve been there personally. I personally likened my feeling towards the camaraderie forged within my group as the same type of relationships and connections forged during competitive marching band. To me there were many similarities, a group of people that went through some pretty intense situations together and experienced intense emotions during this same period, it can be hard for people on the outside to truly understand our camaraderie since it was forged through such unique shared experiences.
So COS conference is the beginning of goodbyes but even though there’s definitely a sense of accomplishment during COS conference (after all, you did make it, you’re practically done) it can also be a bit of a mind f*ck because you’re not done yet but it certainly feels like you are done. What happens after COS conference? Mostly figuring out how to say goodbye to this place that was your home for the past two years.
Erin Capina, YinD 127 History and Epidemiology Malaria is a vector-borne disease caused by parasites and spread via female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is an ancient disease; malaria or a disease like it has been noted for more than 4,000 years. In fact, symptoms of malaria were described in 2700 BC in ancient Chinese medicinal writings […]
I wrote about malaria, take a look.
I woke up today to the realization that nope, it still wasn’t all a dream. Trump really did win the election. I’m still in a state of shock and still grieving. I don’t want platitudes of “it will all be okay” or “we’ll get through this together”. I know you mean well and quite possibly everything will be okay…in the long run. However, please understand that PoC, women, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ, Muslims, and anyone else who is categorically and visibly “different” see Trump’s win as a time of trepidation at best or outright fear at worst. This is a man who has said that Mexicans are rapist and criminals, says he wants to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, says he wants to ban all Muslims from entering the US, insulted a Gold Star family by implying that Ghazala Khan was not allowed to speak, bragged about committing sexual assault against women, and once took out a full page ad in the New York Daily News calling for the execution of the”Central Park Five” (in 2002 their sentences were vacated after the real rapist confessed). “It’s the past”, “don’t worry, he’d never act on it” you might say but it does matter. Maybe he has grown up and realized how damaging his past actions were (unlikely) and maybe all of his talk of walls, bans, and watch lists is nothing but bravado but that still matters because no matter how empty his words may be they have very real and tangible consequences. His words have emboldened and validated the feelings of other who feel that women, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ, Muslims, PoC, and PC culture are the root causes of their problems; that if weren’t for that woman he would have gotten that promotion, that if it weren’t for that immigrant family down the street there would be more welfare aid available to for their cousin’s family, and other variations on this theme. They now believe that their voices, views, and beliefs are the majority? Are they correct? I’d like to think that they are mistaken, that the lofty ideals of equality for all, that our country’s motto, e pluribus unum, will ultimately triumph. I want to believe that so badly but this election has unmasked the dark undercurrent that goes through American life, laid it bare for all to see. It revealed to us an America where its inhabitants feel that there is only one sort of “real American” the rest are just impostors and don’t belong.
I am America. I am a woman of color, a first generation American, and the daughter of immigrants. I am America. America is in my blood. America is in my song. I too am America.
There is work to be done and tomorrow I will begin to fight anew. But today, today I will grieve for the country that I love and has fallen oh so short of its lofty ideals.
I wrote a book review, you should go check it out: All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation
You’ve accepted your invitation, congratulations to you! Now comes the hard part, what to bring. The one thing to keep in mind is that you’re not being asked to set up a homestead in Thailand, people have lived in your village for hundreds of years, so please don’t bring everything and the kitchen sink. Many things you can either buy in Thailand or get sent to you from home. Below is a list of things that I found helpful, sort of helpful, and not at all helpful.
*Will be updated as I end up thinking of things*
Erin Capina, 127 YinD History and Epidemiology Dengue is an old mosquito borne disease that originated in monkeys before crossing over to humans, a phenomenon known as cross species transmission (…
Source: Dengue: A Short Primer
I wrote about dengue and why you don’t want it for our volunteer run online magazine, go check it out!