Friday, November 19, 2010

And So It Begins...

On February 15, 2011 Nate & I will be leaving for Guyana, which is located in South America, and will be spending 27 months serving as Peace Corps volunteers in the areas of health and education. We thought it would be a good idea to document our experiences for those who want to follow us on our travels, those who are considering applying for the Peace Corps and those that get accepted and are in desperate need of finding information about the country they will soon be traveling to, if it wasn't for others blogs I don't think I would have ever been able to finalize a packing list, which I will share later.

I am thrilled to be writing my first-ever blog post. Can you believe in my 25 yrs of life I have never had a blog to document the incredibleness that is me! ~(can you sense the sarcasm) I tried to convince Nate to let me name our blog the "Incredible adventures of Ilana in Guyana (with Nate)," but for some reason he wasn't too keen on that idea. Instead, we decided to name it "It's Always Sunny in Guyana," yes just like the show, except we only have 2 people in our gang as opposed to the 5 in the show. Which means, we are still auditioning for three other parts for anyone who wants to disrupt their life and move to Guyana with us. Come know you wanna ;)

OK, so the real reason for this post is to give you some information about our soon to be new home and jobs. I am sure you are wondering where is Guyana? Well, I am glad you asked. On the right-hand side of this post is a map that shows you the location of Guyana. Guyana is a tropical country on the northern shoulder of South America. It is bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, Suriname, and the Atlantic Ocean and has a population of approximately 760,000, largely confined to a narrow coastal strip. It is the combined size of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Guyana is the poorest country in South America, and is mainly composed of people of African and East Indian descent, and people of Portuguese, Chinese, Amerindian, and mixed descent. Luckily, the language they speak is English, however they speak an English-based Creole and in some parts of the country they speak a Portuguese-based Creole due to their close proximity to Brazil.

So...what are we doing, exactly? Well, we don't know for sure, but the Peace Corps has given us some good ideas and direction of what our main responsibilities will be. As a “Community Health Educator,” I will be working alongside locally trained community health workers to help provide basic health education in rural and/or urban communities, public health services, and assist government health care workers and NGO’s to design, develop, and implement a program response to the HIV/AIDS situation in Guyana. Guyana has the highest HIV rate in the western hemisphere, second only to Haiti.

Nate will be working as a “Community Education Promoter” and his primary goals will be to improve the skills of school-aged populations in reading, literacy and life skills, train teachers in creative approaches and strengthen community alliances through parent-teacher collaborations. Pretty much the same thing he does now in Alachua County. So that worked out nicely. As you can see from our descriptions these are very broad goals and will encompass a variety of tasks that will more than likely change on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Now that we have an idea of what we will be doing and when we will be leaving, we are working on trying to get all of our "ducks in row" (a.k.a. sell all of our stuff) before we begin the next two months of spending time with family and friends. So if you want to see us, here is our timeline. We are in Gainesville until the glorious day of Dec. 19th, my BD, and then will be traveling to Melbourne Fl, to spend a week with Nate's parents. On Dec. 27th we fly to Puerto Rico where we will stay with my parents until we leave for our "staging event," on Feb. 15th. Flights to Puerto Rico are cheap and you have a place to stay if you come. So book now!

Well, I hope you have enjoyed my first-ever post. I cannot express how excited I am to be starting the experience of a life-time with Nate by my side (he's pretty cool). I am scared and really nervous, but I think that's normal.

This weekend we will begin our packing extravaganza and try to consolidate our lives in 8 boxes and 4 suitcases....

Till next time.


  1. Best of luck guys! You'll create a lasting impression on a community that needs you, and I'm sure they'll leave just as much of an impression on you. E, E, and I will be keeping tabs from MD! Safe travels!

    Meghan M.

  2. I'm excited to follow your adventure of a lifetime! Much love.

  3. Hi, Guys! I love the pics and the stories. Thanks for sharing! I miss you guys already! We had a chapter meeting last night and it was just NOT the same. I was totally loopy without ya'll. Enjoy every moment of this life changing experience. I am really proud of you two and totally jealous! BTW, your Gainesville Sun article in now in my ACLU scrapbook! :) - Benetta M. Standly