Tuesday, May 18, 2010

COS and Saying Goodbye

A few weeks ago the Close of Service (COS) conference was held for the group I came to Samoa with 2 years ago…Group 80. This was one of the rare times since we swore in as volunteers and went out to our sites that all 11 of us were together in one spot. These occasions are always joyous and we enjoy hassling each other like the family we have become.

The conference itself was filled with Peace Corps business of assessing sites, what’s next as far as graduate school or jobs is concerned, re-adjustment into American life, evaluating our service and the Peace Corps Samoa office, etc. Really nothing all that exciting but some really good information came out of the meeting which will be very useful in the coming months. Oh the paperwork I have to complete!

The most important issue of COS conference is the feeling of being done and we begin checking out mentally. Once you hit the year mark, only one is left and the countdown begins. Now that we’ve had COS, the reality of going home finally sets in. Being done as a PCV is about 90 days away. The realization of two years having gone by is hitting us all and now is the time to start making plans to go home. This brings up the question of….ok, now what?

Some of us are extending here in Samoa; a few just for a few weeks or ‘til Christmas, but others for a whole year. Others are going straight back home the first day it is possible. And some of us have no idea what to do next. When should I leave? What am I to do when I go home? Should I get a job, which in this financial crisis is nearly impossible to get, or go back to school and get into even more debt than I am already in? Or should I be a lazy bum and not do anything until I come to terms with the fact there are now 3-D tvs on the market, Twitter is a huge thing (you have no idea how long it took us to even figure out what Twitter was in the first place), movies about teen vampires are popular, and everyone I know can update Facebook via their iphone, blackberry, or other mobile devices?

I kinda like the last option…hope you are ready for that Mom!

The other important issue of COS is the saying goodbye to the Peace Corps family. You get on a plane with total strangers and by the end of two years you have 10 brothers and sisters. It is amazing how close one can become in two years. We get thrown into this crazy situation and usually one’s PC brothers and sisters who are the only ones who understand where you are coming from when you tell a story or let out frustration. Saying goodbye is difficult.

Last night marked the first post-COS departure. I said goodbye to a good friend and she’ll be missed greatly. Briony, you are amazing and we’ll all miss you and your laugh which puts a smile on everyone’s face!