Moving Forward

To those of you still reading, thank you for hanging in there.  As I’ve entered my 22nd month in Ghana, I am running out of interesting things to write about.  As with most volunteers in my position, projects are winding down and the focus is turning to life after Peace Corps for both me and my village.  There will be a date when I am no longer around (July 18th for those who want to pencil me back home) and I need to work to ensure a smooth transition.

As some of you may know I have decided to attend the University of Maryland in College Park this fall.  It is there I will spend the next two years worked towards a Master of Public Policy specializing in International Development.  After being accepted to six of the seven schools I applied to (Notre who?) I had a tough decision.  This decision became much easier when I was offered a Graduate Assistantship at Maryland.  The position…Fraternity Housing Director.  Maryland owns some of their fraternity houses and has a graduate student live in them as a resident advisor/house manager.  My fraternity experience at Illinois will be paying off (literally) as I receive full tuition, $13,000 stipend, two-room “apartment” with private bathroom, meals, utilities, health insurance, and 20% off at the bookstore.  In a nutshell I am going to be paid to go back to college and live in a frat house.  I’m sure I’ll soon realize it’s not as glamorous as it sounds but for now I’m pretty excited about it.  So if anyone is ever in the Washington DC/Baltimore area you have a couch to sleep on.  The only downside to the position is I have to be there at the beginning of August giving me only two weeks back home so we’ll have to make them count!

For Ghana I am trying to get an Agriculture volunteer to replace me in December.  Their primary project would be to continue my work with CocoaLink in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the text messages the farmers have been receiving.  They would also be free to engage in any secondary activities that they see fit such as the latrine project and ICT teaching I’ve done.  I have filed the initial paperwork with Peace Corps and talked to the World Cocoa Foundation to make sure they are on board.  The next step will be to have community meetings to discuss proposed the new volunteer.

Recently we just had our annual All Volunteer Conference which was once again a great weekend.  Every time I get with other volunteers I am always so honored and privileged that I get to work with such amazing people.  When we weren’t getting down to business with mandatory workshops and sessions we were having all sorts of fun.  If you’re on Facebook you will see a recent video posted from the talent show that should leave you quite impressed with my abilities.  I’m sure my sisters will be proud.

Moving forward I will continue to work towards a smooth transition out of here.  In early May we have our Close of Service Conference where people who came over in my group will get started on the process of leaving the country.  Various sessions on important paperwork, graduate school, careers, Peace Corps opportunities and other fun surprises are in store.  It will also be a time to say good bye to most of these incredible people I have had the pleasure to work with these past two years.  It will be quite bittersweet.

I hope spring is sprung and that we are finally getting much needed rain back home.  The rainy season here is certainly making up for last year’s lack of rain.  Finally we also have our STARS conference again this year and we are in need of funds.  If you can donate any amount I’d appreciate it.  Just click on the link and it will take you to the project description page.  https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-641-018

Go Terps!

Steve

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