|Goodbye to Jinotepe|
Click above to see pictures
I think that the Peace Corps needs to completely change the way they use older volunteers. As much as we might not want to believe it, our bodies are just not the same as the 21-24 year olds that predominate the ranks of the Peace Corps. Most people 50 and older are eliminated during the rigorous year long medical screening process. For the few that survive that, medical separation seems a constant possibility. I think that if the Peace Corps really wants older volunteers (I found out about it in an AARP ad), they should establish a special training group of older volunteers in each country. Then, while caring for the special needs of those of us who are older, they could utilize the amazing amount of experience and expertize that we have. Instead of putting me into a class of 60 kids where I couldn't hear, why not let me develop curriculum with education officials, especially in primary education, the field I was in for 30 years? For retired doctors, they could work on solving tropical diseases with local doctors, not be sent to give talks on malaria or HIV, as they do with young people right out of college. Those with lots of business experience could help local business leaders to pull the country get out of the precarious economic situation it is in. In other words, we need a smarter Peace Corps, not a government agency that seems to think that they are going to produce cookie cutter volunteers, no matter what their age, experience, or medical history.
Now that my 27 month adventure has turned into a 4 week “vacation”, what is next? Well, I'm moving to a small town in Vermont that has a great liberal arts college. Maybe there, through volunteer work, I can make my own version of the Peace Corps, helping people through my experience, enjoying life, and staying healthy at the same time.