Every PCV goes through three months of pre-service training (PST) to get prepared for the two-year service experience ahead of them. PST includes everything from language and safety trainings to getting to know the culture of your host country — and everyone lives with a host family. From packed lunches to over-protective parents, here’s my list for how PST reminds me of some of my earliest memories.
1. On my first day at my home stay, my father writes out a card detailing all of the family’s names, their ages and my village name. If I get lost, I am to show people the card so I can get help finding my way home.
2. I dutifully recite to my parents every day where I’m going, what I’ll be doing and when I’m going to come back.
3. My classmates and I compare notes on what our moms cook for us at home. Everyone is jealous that I get a soda occasionally for lunch.
4. This is nothing compared with the envy that shows when I proudly announce that I have had hotdogs one day.
5. I bike to school wearing a bright red helmet visible from space (Peace Corps policy — the helmet, not the color. The color was just unfortunate).
6. My dad tells me it is important to have friends, because it is a sad life without friends.
7. I am not allowed to be out after dark.
8. I go to sleep at around 9 p.m. some nights. On weekends.
9. Few things make me happier than drinking an ice-cold orange soda.
10. The only things I talk about now are poop, food and bugs. In that order.
Growing up on a fish farm in California, Matt Young spent his summers up to his ears in mud and vowed never to follow in his RPCV father’s footsteps. So the fact that he now works with fish farmers in Zambia as a Rural Aquaculture Promotion Volunteer comes as a surprise to exactly nobody except himself. Matt comes to the Peace Corps from the collegiate conference services industry and puts his English degree from UC Berkeley to good use by writing blog posts about his cat.