Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23, 2013 3:00 PM—Leaving

As of a couple hours ago, I officially closed my service with the United States Peace Corps!

Over the past two days I've been in the Peace Corps office finalizing things so I could COS.

Things that had to be done:
  1. Medical Exam
  2. Dental Exam
  3. Finalizing and signing my Description of Service
  4. Exit interview with the country director
  5. Closing my bank account
  6. Writing a letter to my host organization
  7. Lots of paperwork
  8. Getting a hole punched in my Peace Corps ID

Normally a volunteer will still go into the office on their actual COS date (for me that is tomorrow) and finish everything including their final check out and having their TB test read, but because I'm leaving at 4:00 AM tomorrow morning, I had to complete everything today. Now, all these tasks may seem very doable in 2 days time, but we have to remember, this is Uganda.

My medical physical was mostly completed yesterday, however they were unable to draw blood on me yesterday because I was too dehydrated. So I was told to drink a lot of water and they would try again today. Sure enough I drank more water than you can imagine. I got up to pee in the middle of the night 3 times when I usually don't get up at all. I went back into the office today and they still struggled to get blood. The medical officer that I did all the rest of my medical stuff with first tried to take blood out of my hand because she couldn't find a vain in either of my arms. This was unsuccessful. The she got the other medical officer who tried to get it from first my left arm and then my right arm. Still no success. They were about to give up, when they realized that they needed so little blood that they could just do a finger prick. So they pricked my index finger on my left land. A little blood came out, but even after she tried to push the blood down all the way from my shoulder it was not enough. So she tried my middle finger on my left hand. Between the two finger pricks she managed to barely get enough blood for the test. So after being stuck 5 times, I was able to produce about 3 drops of blood. What is wrong with me...

My dental exam and teeth cleaning was somewhat uneventful. I do have one chipped cavity but nothing that is really bothering me.

My Description of Service (DOS) is basically a document that details everything I've done and accomplished in Peace Corps over the past two years. It is kind of like a resume just for your Peace Corps service. I drafted it and had it approved about a month ago, but I needed to print it and have it signed by the country director yesterday.

Yesterday I also did another exit interview with the country director. Yes, I had already done one with her when she came to visit my site in early February but since I worked on that project for the last month she wanted to do another.

Closing my bank account was a bit of a nightmare. Leah and I went to the bank this morning before we went to the office. First they told us there was nobody there that was able to close accounts. After some prying we ended up talking to someone. Because I still had money in my account they told me to withdraw it all. I tried to do that at the teller inside the bank but they said there system was down and that I should use the ATM. I attempted to do this but my account balance exceeded the daily withdraw limit. So I had to wait until there system was back up, which wasn't until this afternoon, so I went back later. Also to close your bank account you need to write the bank a letter. Before going to the bank this morning, Leah and I tore some pages out of a notebook and scribbled a letter down to give to the bank when we went. These letters were as legit as something you would get from a 3rd grader practicing letter writing. Needless to say, my account eventually got closed.

Another thing I had to do was to write a letter to my host organization aka my school. When I asked my program manager what the purpose of this was, she said it is for my official resignation from my school. I told her I left my site a month ago. I'm pretty sure they already know that I resigned. However, she made me do this anyway. This letter was a little more legit than the one to close my bank account...it was typed.

In addition to all these different task, there is a lot of other paperwork. Most of it requires signatures from various people in the office. It seemed a little bit like a scavenger hunt to me, because no body ever seems to be in their office when they are supposed to be. It has basically been two days of chasing people around trying to finalize everything.

So once all this is completed, I had to turn in most of this paperwork to the Administrative Officer who then punched a hole in my Peace Corps ID to invalidate it. This is the moment you are truly an RPCV. So since I did this today, I actually COSed before Leah, who has the same COS date as me. Go figure!

One good thing about COSing is that when volunteers COS, the country director invites you to her house for dinner. So last night Leah and I went to Loucine's house for dinner. Dylan and Bethany were going to come as well but they weren't feeling well. Loucine is Armenian, so last night was full of Armenian food and treats, including some cherry liquor that Loucine's grandmother made. Overall, it was a nice night where we really got to sit and chat and enjoy some amazing food.

Needless to say, it's over. And I think the best analogy to use to explain this was something my Dad sent to me in an email today. He was referencing “The Shawshank Redemption”.  “Picture Andy Dufrense cruising towards Mexico in his convertible and how he felt.” It may not be quite the same, but it is a sense of freedom.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Morocco and next week Jill is meeting me in Portugal. I will try my best to keep this blog updated as I travel especially with pictures. So I'm on to the next step... 

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