Departure is coming up fast. I have a long list of things yet to do, but I've decided not to be stressed about it. I also seem to have decided that trying to get individual health insurance is not worth the trouble: that even if I'm accepted, they'll easily find some cause for rescission if I actually need to make a claim. I'll find some travel insurance for the overseas part, anyway.
(Factoid: it kind of looks like having health insurance doesn't make a difference in your mortality rate; economists investigate, with links here and here. Note that this doesn't say anything about the desirability of insurance, or measures of your health or quality of life; it's just "are you more likely to die".)
The mailing list for the Chile group is...a fountain of insights into my fellow travelers. At least two are middle-aged women, so my theory about it being mostly younger twentysomethings seems to be wrong. Among other things, there have been a variety of views about how prepared we should be, what we should bring, that sort of thing:
- "I don't know what to pack!" (the thick booklet they sent us has at least 2 pages of packing lists and recommendations.)
- "I grilled the volunteer who interviewed me, and she said she only brought one skirt and two shirts and she was fine. And she packed the night before she left." (certainly a valid approach, though not one I'm a fan of.)
- "I know we're all worried about the cold, but I just checked the weather and it's 80F in Santiago. Stick that in your burrito, compadres. I think we can relax and have some fun first!" (possibly my favorite. I'm pretty sure they don't eat burritos in Chile, and the quotes from past volunteers go on at length about how it's not only cold, but they don't do much for heating.)
The Field Director sent out a long email with more details about meeting us at the airport and such, along with a gentle but firm reminder that it does get extremely cold and they don't heat the buildings, and past volunteers have neglected to bring warm things and have had to have them sent from home.
There are 17 of us. There are only 2 down in Patagonia, which is why I didn't get into that one: it's fully-funded, and they had a lot of applicants.
We're volunteering directly with the Ministry of Education, but before the Ministry training, we have ten (10) days of WorldTeach training. I don't know how long the Ministry training is, or where my placement is.
We're expected to round out our classroom teaching by starting extracurricular stuff. Normally it seems that's a drama club or something English-related, and technically I could do that (I'm a bad conductor, but probably up to the task of teaching people some a cappella singing if I needed to). But in reality the things that are important to me that I have enough skill to share with people are aikido and Zen practice. So I'm thinking more and more about that, especially aikido which is more universally accessible...hopefully I get a chance to teach people how to play with me.