One of the aspects of my service thus far has been the unexpected separation between Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) and Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRV). It’s present in the way staff address the group. It’s present in the literature. And it seems most present among the volunteers. You may be asking yourself what is the difference between the two groups? A PCV serves for 27 months and a PCRV can serve anywhere between 3 – 12 months. Typically, PCRV’s are former PCV’s so the fact that I came in without being a prior volunteer is amazing. It seems it doesn’t happen often. It is very special to be here especially because this is the first time the PCV and PCRV’s have gone through training together. We are an experiment. It’s a fabulous one, too! I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’m grateful they chose this time to combine us together. I’m honored to be here and a part of EC 87!!
One possible theory about this separation is that the people serving a 27 mos assignment, and are together for a full seven weeks, may be reluctant to invest time, energy and effort to form bonds or friendships with those of us who are response volunteers. In our case, there are two response volunteers serving 1 yr assignments. I can only speak to my experience and observations. Everyone is friendly and works in a group as necessary. It’s the “off” time such as breaks, lunch, and after training that it becomes most apparent. I have experienced a little bit of isolation in this realm. It could also be partly due to age differences, assignment differences, and where we are living with host families. The bulk of volunteers are here as teachers for the Literacy Program while I am here to work with St. Jude Hospital and Annmarie is here to work with an orphanage. Regardless of our differences, at the end of the day, we are all here because we believe in the Peace Corps and want to be of service.
Upon self reflection, maybe the separation is coming from me? Due to the shorter training period and home-stay I want to soak up as much family time as possible. That doesn’t leave much time to spend with my fellow PCV’s. I wish there was more time because sadly, I will be leaving everyone by the end of next week for my post in Vieux Fort, in the South of the country. I know eight other volunteers, aside from me, will be stationed on St. Lucia while everyone else gets deployed to neighboring islands Dominica, St. Vincent, and Grenada. My plan is to stay connected and participate when I can with activities.
Stay tuned…because I am not sitting on the sidelines of life!
~Brie Messier, MBA