I conveniently left one major piece of personal news out of my last blog, “A Little Bit of Clarification”. Life has admittedly been a whirlwind this last year and consistency in any form has been in short supply. However, there have been a few exceptions. I’m looking to share one of those exceptions in just a month.
To talk about the Peace Corps and my experience just a little further, there are ten core expectations of anyone serving in the worldwide federal program; the third one being to “serve where the Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship, if necessary, and with the flexibility for effective service”. That’s how I ended up in Sierra Leone instead of Ethiopia, Micronesia, or Moldova. Continent, country… these are details and decisions that the Peace Corps makes for you (although that policy has since changed in the last year). The ability to exercise personal preference for us trainees didn’t come until five weeks into our training program, when we had site placement interviews to determine where we were going to spend our two years of continual service.
When each of us went in for our site placement interviews we made many requests and tried our best to make our individual preferences known. I’m pretty sure every last one of us asked to be ‘assigned in the mountains’ in an effort to escape the pounding low land heat and humidity of where we had so far trained in the cities of Freetown and Bo (I was definitely one of those kids asking for the mountains as well).
I joined the Peace Corps looking for a challenge and when I went in for my site interview I reiterated that point, deliberately asking them to place me at a school that needed a lot of help and faced some strong degree of adversity. I wanted a project. I wanted to work at a school that had big goals, that had big desires, and still had a long way to go to get there. Peace Corps granted my request- no, I didn’t get assigned in the mountains- I got a challenge. I got exactly the kind of school I wanted to work for.
So why am I telling you this? I did after all just make it clear that I’ve been finished with the Peace Corps for nearly a year, along with detailing that there has been little consistency in my life this past year. So why then?
Because this is your fair warning. That ‘exception’ that I want to debut in a month is going to blow up all of my social media.
On September 1st, I’m officially launching a non-profit that I’ve been working on with a group of dedicated and motivated people. Its purpose is to help fund and finish the construction of the school I was going to serve at in Sierra Leone.
One of the few positives from the loss of my potential Peace Corps service was the opportunity to immediately work towards this project that I begun to imagine from the very first moment that I saw the physical state of my school. My plan had been to not launch this idea until I had finished my service. That timeline has obviously been sped up (although at times slowed by my almost vagrant recent lifestyle), and I’ve absorbed the road bumps of the last year as best as I can in order to get everything ready to go.
I encourage you to look through the website when it launches in one month’s time. This is not me asking you to donate, but rather to see if it’s something you’re interested in. Pass it along to friends and family who might also be interested. Read through anything and everything that we’ll have posted. Check out our partner non-profit’s website. I promise you will not be inundated with too much information, but rather see a streamlined website presenting the pertinent details. That said, if for any reason you want to learn more and gather more in-depth information, I, along with my colleagues, will certainly be available to answer any and all questions.
We hope that like us you will see the need for this project. Our school has the largest student body in its community…. and yet possesses only three functional classrooms. We’re trying to do a few things, but our most immediate need, our goal #1, is building three more functional classrooms.
But like I said, I won’t inundate you with information. This is just the warning that I might inundate you with social media. I will provide some reminders, whether you follow me on instagram (@dawsonjope), see me on facebook (dawson jope) or twitter (@DoliverJ). So please, keep it in your mind, and check it out when the time comes!
So that’s it! …T-minus 31 days.