Sunday, July 26, 2009


Here is how things stand right now: It is my last week in Atlanta, and I have finally started packing in earnest. My last day at Georgia Tech is on Wednesday, and my dad flies down on Friday to help me move everything back up to my parents' house in Pennsylvania.

Peace Corps still has not officially medically cleared me and this fact is stressing me out quite a bit, but there is not a whole lot that I can do about it at this time.

I have begun researching Liberia, since I am still woefully ignorant about this place in which I will be residing for ten months. The BBC provides a nice overview of the country's unique and interesting history, but without much focus on the human aspect. Scarlett Lion's blog is an excellent source of information; she provides insight into the mentality of a population that has recently been ravaged by war, and also displays some really fantastic photographs. Not surprisingly, much of what she has to say is disturbing, like this statement:
"During the war, nearly a million Liberians were displaced, more than a quarter million died, and three-fourths of the country’s women were raped or sexually assaulted."
To put those numbers in perspective, the entire population of Liberia is estimated to be around 3.5 million people.

This was one thing that the Peace Corps Response recruiter brought up in my interview as being one of the most difficult aspects for volunteers -- although the country is at peace right now, nearly everyone in the country has very recently suffered, in some way or another, from a severe trauma. I don't know if there is really any effective way to prepare for this. Knowing that it is going to be a struggle in it of itself will be somewhat helpful, as will reading up on the history to better understand what has happened to bring the country to where it is today. But I suspect that there simply is not that much that a sheltered, upper-middle-class American like myself can really do to understand what life in a recently post-war country will be like; even statistics like the one above -- estimated 3/4 of the entire population of women were raped or sexually assaulted -- are too horrible to fully absorb.

In any case, I need to spend a lot more time reading up on Liberia, especially since, as this is a Peace Corps Response position, there will be no pre-service training. But for now -- bed. Tomorrow, more packing.