A chronicle of my experiences as a Peace Corps Community Organizational Development volunteer in Bulgaria.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

All Good Things...

It's been two years since I joined the Peace Corps and began serving as a Community and Organizational Development volunteer in Stara Zagora. I've just completed all my COS paperwork during a three day marathon in Sofia and have just one more half-day scheduled at the office on September 15th to tidy up my finances, hand in my identification cards and shake hands with friends I may not see again. Peace Corps took this most recent opportunity to poke, probe and prod me during my final exit medical exam. I received a dental check-up complete with tooth cleaning and an eye exam complete with a new pair of spectacles. I participated in an 'exit' interview with the Assistant Country Director and rode the bus back to Stara Zagora.

My time in country is now measured in days and my plans are centered on getting around to seeing all the people to whom I want to say 'good-bye'. This coming weekend I'll go to Saedinenie on Saturday and stay for the night. I'm bringing Veneta a Bulgarian-English dictionary so we can write letters back and forth. Plans are in the works for the girls from the film club to get together for a night of roasting marshmallows and making s'mores and I'll leave one of the two remaining video cameras with them. My sitemates in Stara Zagora and I will see each other off and on until I leave and have a final beer at Drums the night before I slink out of town. Brian and Kate and Sara will come to Sofia on my last night in the country and we'll have dinner together. Then, the next day, I'll catch a flight back to the States and my "excellent PC adventure" will officially have come to an end.

I'll return to a place where appliances and elevators tend to be unremarkable things that function as they are meant to and rarely develop personalities of their own. I'll drive or fly everywhere I want to go rather than catching an express bus or the 'fast' train. I'll eat fruits and vegetables that look physically perfect and taste like paper and buy eggs in cartons in the supermarket instead of from my 'egg guy' in the pazar. On the other hand, I won't have to put up an umbrella when I use the toilet and I won't have to choose which room to heat during the winter. I'll be home in time for the baseball playoffs and the football season.

I've sent in a couple of applications to the Peace Corps for jobs here and there. While I'm waiting to hear back from them, I'm preparing for the Foreign Service Oral Assessment. I'm scheduled to take it on October 16th in Chicago and I have a long way to go to get ready. I also plan to wander a little and meander a bit here and there, visiting old friends and fellow returned volunteers. Mooching off friends and sleeping on couches could become a new way of life for me. The Peace Corps' third goal is to introduce people back in America to the culture and ways of your host country. This is accomplished by giving talks in schools and other organizations and by just sitting around telling your stories to friends and family. I'll try to bring some domashna rakiya home with me to help the story-telling along.

So, that's it. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Peace Corps and my time in Bulgaria. I hope I've accomplished something useful for the people with whom I work, but I know that I've received a great deal from them. I'll leave here on September 16th and it won't be very long before the countdown begins until I can return to Bulgaria for a proper Na Ghosti.

So long, Bulgaria. Ciao za cega.

We are all going to miss you. It's sad to see you go and I wish you the best of luck in whatever step is next for you.


My boyfriend Ryan is coming to stay with you tomorrow as he is the incoming PCT who has been assigned to your NGO. I look forward to reading your blog thoroughly to get an idea of his home for the next two years!

Best of luck to you in the conclusion of your service!

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