Peace Corps service is 27 months long and there are many milestones along the way. We started with three months of pre-service training, moved to our sites, had a reconnect conference, various in-service trainings, and now my group, CII-4 (aka the best one ever), just spent three days at our Close of Service Conference!
The COS conference is a time to reflect back over the last two years, share our successes and challenges, look ahead to the future, discuss reintegration and reverse culture shock, receive administrative information, and most importantly….gather as a whole group one last time! Peace Corps service is unlike any other experience and the people you share it with become your family.
We spent three days at a beautiful hotel/conference center in Salgar (about 30 minutes outside of Barranquilla). During the day we attended sessions with various PC staff members and in the evenings we were free to enjoy the pool and celebrate being together as a whole group!
At the end of the conference we gathered with the entire PC staff in the office to present them with our legacy. We shared what we have accomplished together as a group and I was really proud to hear the impact we have made. Some examples include teaching over 10,000 students, working with over 60 counterpart teachers, forming more than 10 youth groups, leading teacher training workshops, presenting HIV/AIDS charlas, and so much more! We presented the staff with a tiny plastic chair (kind of an inside joke..) that each of us signed. We also asked our bosses George and Jason to sign the chair since they are also leaving their positions and in a sense ‘COS-ing’ with us. To close we danced ‘Ras-Tas-Tas’ as a group and then showed a video of pictures from the last two years.
It is hard for me to believe I am writing about my COS conference. Although we all knew the end was approaching and many have been counting down the days until we return home, this really made it a reality. I already had to say a few goodbyes and there will be many more in the coming months. While it is hard to say goodbye to people who have become such a huge part of your life, I find comfort in the fact that this really is an amazing group of people who are going on to do awesome things with their lives. I know we will keep in touch and I am already looking forward to an epic reunion somewhere down the line.
To my CII-4 family: I could not have made it through these past two years without you. From the very first day in Miami, I knew this was a special group of people. We have been through so much together and I can’t believe it is already time to say goodbye. I am so excited to see what the future holds for each and every one of you. Know that I will think of you all often, especially anytime I sit in a plastic chair, eat rice, listen to champeta, or am profusely sweating!
I love you guys….thanks for the memories.
Until next time….paz y amor.
See all of the pictures from the COS Conference by clicking on the pictures tab or here.