So, dear friends, the end is nigh.
Not *that* nigh.
But, you know, nigh-ing.
We just got word: Our service will close* on May 19th, 2010, exactly 2 years to the day after we swore in. And we have a 72-hour checkout procedure that backdates from that, so I'll be leaving Berberville for the last time on May 14th or 15th, inshallah.
That's really not very far away.
In preparation for that, all the remaining Health and Environment PCVs from my group - I think we have 45 out of the original 60 - will meet together three months prior for our "COS Conference".
At COS Conference, we'll discuss things like how to finish off our projects in a way we can be proud of; potential job opportunities; the status of our health care /insurance /other benefits /etc after we COS; what RPCV status means in terms of fellowships and non-compete status for federal jobs; and suchlike. It's Peace Corps' official chance to point out that we're about to finish up, and how to handle that.
After 24 months in country (well, it'll be 23.5, but who's counting), it'll be a shock for most of us to think about.
Adjusting back to American culture - assuming we plan to return to America (which, honestly, is a valid assumption for the vast majority of us). Finding a job, once this guaranteed paycheck dries up. Deciding our next steps.
Of course, it has already come up. Everyone I talk to back in the US wants to know what my post-May 2010 plans are, and even PCVs here have started discussing it with each other.
A couple of us - literally 2 out of the 45 - are contemplating extending our service for a 3rd year. One has already committed to it and been approved; the other [me] is still making up her mind. Fortunately, I still have time to think about it. If I do decide I want to extend, I have to formally make a request to my Program Manager (though I've already sounded him out, and he responded positvely). If he thinks that (1) I have good reasons for wanting to extend, and (2) there's money in the budget to fund me for a third year, then he'll approve my application and pass it up to the Country Director. If the CD agrees, then it's official. The deadline for Country Director approval is COS conference, meaning that the application deadline is a month or three before mid-February. As in, I need to make up my mind before the New Year for sure, and even sooner if possible.
* Hence the acronym COS, Close Of Service
9 months ago