C.O.S! (See below) / by Alan Strathman

Last week all of the 24 remaining PCVs from the four islands (8 in our group early-terminated) converged on Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. The occasion was our Close of Service (COS) conference. The PC arranged it to be held, and for us to stay, at a nice hotel in the north of the island. Rodney Bay is the tourist part of the island so it has nice hotels and lots of shops and restaurants. Another term for Rodney Bay is Fake St. Lucia.

Our COS date isn't until August 24th but they have COS months ahead of time to help people figure out next steps. Many of the 20-something PCVs are interested in going to graduate school and there are a number of PC-related scholarships available. Slightly older PCVs, who are going back to find a job were interested in sessions on....how to find a job. Service in the PC entitles a volunteer to one year of non-competitive eligibility (NCE) for federal jobs. But as you can imagine there are many ins and outs of using NCE.

Being interested in neither graduate school nor a job, I was free to place my thoughts elsewhere. Often I placed them near the pool and wondered if they would notice if I stopped attending sessions. Being the rule follower I continued to attend regularly but didn't pay much attention. 

After the sessions we had drinks and dinner and caught up with others on the various islands. They scheduled us to have dinner at the Country Director's house and to have a barbecue on the beach. Here we are on the beach:

Much of the week was surreal because when we started serving, COS seemed like it was 10 years off. And we have seen similar pictures from earlier groups. It was a nice week because the 24 of us have a bond. We were together almost every day for 7 weeks during Pre-service Training and over the months we kept in touch with each other and tracked the ups and downs we all had at one time or another.  And, now, after almost two years serving together it is a group of people that I feel close to. Though, closer to some than others! It is also surreal because some of these people I will never see again. Many, though, I am already looking forward to meeting back in normal life.

And just for those of you who still believe that I am serving jail time and not actually in the PC: