Monday, June 28, 2010
At the same conference mentioned in the previous post, we gathered that Monday night [this current post is being written over a week later] for our site announcements. It was a really nice evening... the 7's were in town also and everyone met at the home of the training director where a huge map of Fiji was laid out on the floor. After getting our site locations, we stood on the map so that our team mates could see where we were placed.
Everyone will be happy to know (especially any AMRG'ers reading this blog) that after approximately three years of wilderness search and rescue training, I will be exceptionally prepared for living and working in Suva, yes Suva, the largest city in the South Pacific, where I will be spending the next two years.
I was expecting a city for my placement and I had weighed the pros and cons early deciding that and urban placement definitely has its advantages and could be pretty cool. This thought process was built around rural cities however... smaller places like Lobassa or Nausori where I would have access to creature comforts and resources that utilize my background skills while still allowing me to keep touch with the rural communities. Suva is a metropolis compared to these places and very westernized.
This is not to say that I'm not excited... Having some time to think about my placement before writing this blog entry, I can say that I am very excited. I have been assigned to replace a volunteer who will be leaving after extending her PC tour for a third year. My position will be with with the Fijian Ministry of Health [MOH] working in their Oral Health Unit. That's the MOH building in the photo... and that's me jumping for joy.
Working at this position will be unique as I won't necessarily be working every day at the grass roots level. I'll have the opportunity to learn from and work with the health workers and policy makers at the government level as they understand and synthesize health issues at the macro level.
Since Peace Corps encourages its volunteers to have multiple projects, I will be uniquely placed to work with a variety of MOH departments. I have already inquired about Environmental Health [waste management, sanitation infrastructure etc.] opportunities and the signs look good. On top of that, my supervisor will be the director for the Central East [Cent/East] portion of the nation. If you look at a map of Fiji, "the nation" is all the area covered by the various islands... meaning that Cent/east is a big eff-ing region. There could also be opportunities for work related travel to the various islands in the eastern region.
My fears stem from lessons learned from design: I don't want to lose touch with the communities I'm supposed to be working on behalf of. In other words, while I'm in the city, I don't really know what's going on in the villages... or the settlements etc. I feel that the issue is even more important because of the obvious fact that I am not of the land and people.
With a week and half left of training before I move to my permanent site, I feel excited about the opportunities and experiences that lay ahead of me in Suva.