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CRITICAL PERIODS IN THE LIFE OF A PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER

You're feeling "on top of the world;" you don't look for changes. Given however, that PCVs spend their 2 (or more) years in a foreign culture, the likelihood of ups and downs are more common and normal. This diagram was put together by a group of COSing volunteers in Senegal in the mid-1980's. It's applicable wherever you are. TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

27-Month Life Cycle of a PCV


Month 1 PST Issues Depart States Arrive South Africa Disorientation Health Self-consciousness Too much structure Too routine Group constancy Fatigue Impending affectation Language, language, language Assignment Separation/solitude Uncertainty of role Behavior/Reaction Anxiety Loneliness Feeling incompetent Nervous about personal changes over 2 years Withdrawal Anxiety Restlessness Easy irritation Low tolerance level Interventions Build relationships Social events Establish routine Maintain link home Develop interests, hobbies, "positive habits" Explore independence (e.g. go for walks on day off) Make plan for first 3 months Visit new site, visit fun/cultural places in country Establish relationships/familiarity with S. Africans, PC staff Build skills for immediate use

2 PST

3-6

Fright Frustration with self and others Loneliness Weight/health changes Homesickness Uselessness

7-10

Slow work progress Language plateaus

Comparison to others Over zealousness

Develop in-country correspondence Host South African visitors Visit peers/friends Establish links with local organizations Do technical research for future use Language study, language study, language study Establish schedule, routine sense of "home" Simple projects: plant trees, plant garden, play with kids Reconnect with other PCVs Cards, letters home to forgotten relationships

Cross cultural frustration/"shock"

Homesickness Uncertainties about adaptation abilities Intolerance with host country

Talk with friends about slow starts & failures Simple projects: cooking, personal crafts, meetings, garden for self Consolidate friendships with South Africans Refer to this sheet/culture shock sheets Holiday planning/mini vacation Review work plan, set new goals Review personal goals for service 1 year anniversary celebration

11-15

Mid service crisis Doubt about program, role, self, government Various failures over time

Impatience with self, program, system Blame on program Constant complaining

Reflection: Lethargy disillusionment, confusion, resolving frustrations with victories New trainees arrive in sector Holiday time

Haughtiness w/new trainees Develop new recreation options Write long lost acquaintances Explore better relations with government and NGO folks Return to language study and practice Visit new volunteers Physical activity - "get in shape" Focus on relationship in the town Re-examine goals and time frame Research post-PCV activities (talk to other PCVs, do web search) Explore work possibilities in neighboring towns

16-20

Increased/more defined work pace Project work Awareness of time constraints Realization of own limitations Consideration of "post PC" life

Hyperactivity or apathy Procrastination Self-recrimination Resignation Disappointment Downplay achievements Over-identification in behavior

21-23

Prep for COS: work/follow up Depression about perceived lack of accomplishment and/or lack of time Anticipated separation Demanding work pace

Monumental building

Vacation/travel

Withdrawal into work details Review work plans, assess feasibility

Panic Procrastination

Consideration of Frustration with self extension, post PC options Acknowledgment of chance for unmet goals Moodiness

Plan "closing out" and follow up Work with counterparts, government, town groups on planning for departure, follow up Collaboration with 1st year PCVs

Consider post-PC planning, first draft of resume Create a four months personal calendar Give quality time to colleagues/personal friendships Ask PCVs about trends, US popular culture Do self-analysis (i.e. factors of self-growth, work accomplishment) to consolidate self-confidence Work on self-image Shop for local art, crafts, etc. Write friends, make social plans

23-27

Trauma of departure Concerns about social reentry Bridging South African with US/former identity Re-definition of career Closer or re-definition of South Africa based on relationships

Fright Confusion Alienation Anxiety Panic

Giddiness Post PC travel plans Impatience Transfer work skills, area-specific knowledge to trainees Obsession with planning and Arrange for gifts to host family scheduling