Thursday, October 30, 2008

Civic Duties

So it's 5 days away. To most of you that means a chad or a lever or a marker and the end of 2 years of bullsh#$. To me it's a plane ticket and the prospect of an obscenely early morning, then a country I only know from photographs and factoids. At this point I possess the knowledge of a 3rd grader who drew The Gambia out of a fishbowl and spent a couple weeks learning about agriculture and demographics and sticking photos of bustling marketplaces and crocodiles on posterboard. What will I do when I get there? That information as of yet is a bit fuzzy.
The first 2 months seem to be devoted to cramming an overload of information into my currently atrophied brain. The last year or so I spent memorizing bagel sandwich construction and sales pitches for movie rental bundles. Nothing particularly difficult or important in either the long or short run. Starting next week I will be assaulted with 2 years' worth of vocational training, language skills, and cultural sensitivity, over which I will be regularly graded and critiqued. This prospect is honestly more frightening than the spectres of exotic disease and wild fauna. After this initial training, assuming I pass, I will be inducted into the corps and placed in a village where I will be...improving it in yet-to-be-defined ways. Basically, the assignment will be what I make it.
Yet while the task seems daunting, it is equally invigorating. It is exactly the kind of stimulation to jar my dilapidated cognitive abilities, atrophied from a year of minimum wage drudgery. Case in point- it has taken me almost two distracted months to read Sons and Lovers, which at 400 pages isn't light reading, but should be easy to dispatch within a month for someone with a B.A. So, while Obama and McCain are revving up for what appears to be a very difficult presidency, I am preparing for my own modest contribution to our image abroad, and hopefully revive my own ambition. The purpose of this blog will be to document the successes and struggles of my service--and maybe work on my writing skills a little bit. Comments and criticism (within reason) are welcome.