Thursday, July 25, 2013

My New Roles: Third Year Begins

My last few weeks have been jam-packed as I moved into my new apartment in Gaborone, said goodbye to a dear friend, mourned a loss, settled in, and officially began working at my third year assignments. Needless to say, there has been a lot of adjustment - something that I have gotten used to in my time abroad. Through it all, I maintain that the best things in life are seized out of moments like this - when there is an air of uncertainty coupled with a sense of adventure and an open mind. Change, vulnerability, adjustment, and opportunity are the lifeblood of a Peace Corps Volunteer.

So far, the adjustments to my new assignments - as a Volunteer Leader for Peace Corps and a Technical Advisor for PCI - have been positive. The orientations went smoothly, I have remained very excited about the work, I already feel a deep sense of purpose, and the teams I will be assisting are among the best I have known.

With PCI, I will be working with a very diverse and multicultural group of people, hailing from the far corners of the globe. Their experience is just as varied, which offers me ample opportunity to learn and grow. Similarly, the components of the $16.7 million project that PCI has me working on are just as multifarious, ranging from behavior change to economic empowerment to orphan care to integrated early childhood education and finally to women's empowerment. These facets are intertwined, thereby offering me a chance to work alongside specialists and implementing partners in all areas of the project.

While the opportunities for professional growth and exposure to various topics are plenty, there is also much more clarity in my exact role with PCI. I will be advising particularly on the integrated early childhood education (IECD) component and helping mainstream gender (which the project incorporates into all areas). My exact deliverables go as follows:
  • Draft and finalize an Adolescent Life Skills Toolkit. This toolkit will be adopted as part of Botswana's National Strategy for life skills education. In this vein, I will also develop a training plan to introduce this toolkit to partners, stakeholders, and government. 
  • Finalize an IECD Resource Pack and develop a training plan to launch it. This includes researching and writing resource modules and rolling out trainings on the resource pack to PCI partners and stakeholders.
  • Provide technical assistance to setting up an "IECD Model Site" at a village outside the capital to demonstrate best practices. This is from concept to national expansion.
  • Plan and organize an IECD Forum to be attended by Botswana Government, USAID, and other key national and international agencies.
  • Assist with monitoring and evaluation and reporting of the implementation of the IECD project component according to USAID's indicators. This includes conducting field monitoring activities and compiling M&E reports.
This role has me pushing myself to a higher level. It will be both challenging and immensely rewarding. And, if I am able to satisfactorily pull it all off within my one year's time, be an exceptional feat! Regardless, I am thrilled about the learning opportunity and what I stand to gain from it all. I mean, how many people can say they published two nationally-adopted manuals and created a model site from scratch?! I hope to be among those who can...

My role with Peace Corps is every bit as elaborate and will have me keeping extra busy - and, yes, it may actually feel like having two full-time jobs. It spans an array of duties, including providing technical assistance and information to volunteers, assisting staff with site development and conflict mediation, giving feedback on post and volunteer assignments, and so on.

To date, I have been being a mentor to the incoming group of Peace Corps Trainees who will be coming in two short weeks. This means hosting conference calls to discuss various topics (home stay, safety and security, packing, etc) and responding to countless emails as they prepare to come to Botswana. It has been fun getting to know them prior to arrival and makes me even more excited to meet them and participate in their upcoming training. I have also started helping with site development for the incoming group - attending community meetings to assess buy-in of the village, meeting with potential host agencies, and talking with Peace Corps staff about sites. My involvement has been minimal so far but even getting a taste of what's to come has been compelling. All in all, I think the role as a PCVL will offer extremely valuable insight into the oversight and running of a field office.

That is my third year, in brief. Or at least how it looks today. 

My professional career to date has been varied. I have found the utmost satisfaction doing hands-on capacity building, as with the grassroots development work of my last two years. It will be interesting to see how this new path will feel. Will it be rewarding? Will I like this hybrid office-field assignment? Does it feel different working in an office setting now that I see the direct results in the field? Will this change the course of my future? I will keep you all apprised of my evolution and my impression of the work. I can say that I am most confident and excited about what lays before me. And I am certain that it will be a rewarding, challenging, and eye-opening year.

1 comment:

  1. oh wow. that sounds like 3 full time jobs... but what wonderful opportunities! I'm excited to follow along your PC year 3 adventures! :)