Monday, March 8, 2010

Chile update

I know, lots of updates. I've been asking lots of questions and gotten good answers from the WorldTeach field director in Santiago and the program director in Cambridge, and they've also been communicating any new information as they get it. The short version is that, if you'll pardon the language, everything is fucked five ways from Sunday.

  • The English Opens Doors office building sustained heavy damage, and they're still not allowed inside. Their database with the information on volunteers, host families, and placements is down.
  • English Opens Doors has other volunteers already in-country--WorldTeach is just one source--and those people were assigned to regions VIII and IX, which were the ones hard-hit by the quake. Contacting those volunteers was a priority, and I imagine pretty difficult, but they're all okay.
  • The Ministry has to contact our host families ("which in itself can be quite difficult") to make sure they can still host a volunteer; they have to make sure the placement schools are safe; and they'd have to find new placements (which is time-consuming) if original placements are no longer workable.
  • Once the program is delayed, it can't quite be spun up on a moment's notice, so WorldTeach is thinking to give us 3 or more weeks of notice before any departure date. (I have a cogent argument for them that the 17 of us who have already quit our jobs and given up our apartments would be more than happy to pick up and be in Miami on a weeks' notice.)
The other volunteers have been sending email to the list, and except for a couple of older women, most of the rest do seem to be 25 and under, as you'd expect. They may be in worse shape than I am, since I have unemployment and money saved up, and I gave up my apartment to my girlfriend, so I have a place to stay.

From the sound of things, we're not going to get a departure date before May, and I'd be grateful if it were that soon. In the meantime, I'm doing some paid research for one of Anna's clients, and I think I'll take off on an extended road trip around the 23rd to visit folks in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. I'm also looking around for volunteer stuff in the continental U.S. I can do for the next couple months.

("Virginia? Sure! Never been there! Just give me the address.")

Given how much I wanted to go and how long I've been unemployed, I'm doing really well, and largely on an even keel. That's not quite the same thing as "good", but it's doable.

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