Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Activities

So you're a TEFL Peace Corps volunteer and work at a secondary school. School starts on Sep 1 and ends on Jun 1, so that obviously means you have all of June, July and August to drink and be merry, right?

Not so! Just like all the other sectors of Peace Corps, TEFL volunteers are supposed to be on-duty 24/7 for the time they're in country. Since school is out and your main job is null, you are expected to find secondary projects to fill that time. Really this just means that you are now on an even keel with the other volunteers (at least in Mongolia) and are forced to make up your own job for a little while.

The way I solved this problem last year was to sign up for a summer camp. Mongolia has tons of English camps, sports camps, and I'm sure other types as well. I signed up for one camp and followed it through the whole summer. This had the advantage of not requiring me to spend money or time on finding food, lodging or travel the whole summer long. It had the distinct disadvantage of keeping me in one place the whole summer long.

This summer I took a different approach. So far, I've done a camp in the far west, worked at an orphanage in the big city and taken a short vacation to the far north, and I'm not finished yet. Tomorrow (or whenever I get a bus ticket) I'm headed out east for a seminar on Women's Empowerment. By using this method, I'm spending way over a week with my butt in a bus seat; I'm spending just over 200,000 Tugs on tickets (though I'm crashing with other volunteers so no lodging fees); and, I'm seeing the entirety of my country virtually guilt free and without using my precious-few vacation days.

If you're a really enterprising volunteer, you can find plenty of opportunities during the summer that will fulfill your Peace Corps requirement not to be a lazy bum, while still having a great time. Find all the camps, seminars, conferences and schools that might want a volunteer and do some comparison shopping. Maybe one is near a beautiful lake that you've been dying to see; maybe one will put all volunteers up in a nice hotel for the duration; maybe one just has a slue of awesome interesting activities and great participants. Working during the summer, at least to me, is a lot more rewarding than sitting around anyway. Also for some volunteers, summer secondary projects are their most lasting and effective work in-country.

Now, off to do COS paper work!

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