For most volunteers here, sitemates are part of the PC Ethiopia experience. Unfortunately, so is their turn over. Since we all come and go with various training groups, it’s common to have to say goodbye (and hello) to different groups every 6 months or so. My two sitemates, Thor and Allison, left Abi Adi recently after completing their 27 months of service in Ethiopia. After spending the last 8 months living in the same town as these two, things will definitely be different as I adopt to life without them. It will be even more different as I welcome the two replacement volunteers from the newest training group.
Here in Peace Corps Ethiopia, it’s pretty common to have two or more Peace Corps Volunteers living in the same town. There are around 200 PCVs in Ethiopia and there are only so many towns that fit the PC requirements for facilities, safety, access, job opportunities, etc. Plus PC Ethiopia has volunteers in three different sectors: environment, education, and health, so it’s usually ok, in fact beneficial, for volunteers from different sectors to serve alongside one another. We may be living in the same small town, but our projects focus on different objectives.
Allison worked with the teacher’s college here in Abi Adi. She ran the English Language Improvement Center where she organized countless activities to help the future teachers of Ethiopia improve their English language skills.
Thor worked with the primary school cluster. There are 4 primary schools here in Abi Adi and he taught English clubs, conducted teacher evaluations, and helped prepare the English exams.
Both the teacher’s college and the primary schools hosted send off parties for Allison and Thor, respectively. I attended both and was moved by the deep gratitude expressed by their colleagues after working together for 2 years. I knew I had committed sitemates, but this was proof. Their counterparts were so sad to see them leave. Even though it’s been a few weeks since they left, I’m still asked daily when they will return.
Allison and Thor are both pursuing master’s degrees after leaving Peace Corps. Allison will start a program in international education development while Thor will be pursing the life of a foreign service officer by first attending a program in international policy.
Ever since first arriving for pre-service staging in Washington DC, I’ve been impressed with the quality and commitment of my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia. These two are exemplary volunteers: smart, patient, integrated, and hard working. Thanks for all the guidance and leadership you two showed me. It made the transition to Peace Corps life much easier. Thanks for blazing the trail and being such fantastic “government issued friends!”