RPCV Highlight – Mark Hejinian, GUY 17

 
 


Name: Mark Hejinian
GUY Group: Guy17
Guyana Site: Affiance, Essequibo Coast
Type of Volunteer: Health (and whatever else came my way)

1. What have you been up to since you finished Peace Corps?
After COSing in April 2008, I started law school at Georgetown University Law Center. I’m about to start my third and final year this fall.

2. What do you miss most about Guyana and your Peace Corps experience?
I definitely miss my friends and the slow-pace of life. I know in Guyana it could be frustrating having so little to do, but now I sometimes get caught up in school and work so much that I’m not seeing my friends enough or having down time. Plus, how could I not miss roti and pumpkin! Thank god I can find 5 Year in the states now.

3. How did your experience in Guyana affect your post-Peace Corps experience?
Like many RPCVs, it has given me the ability to deal with stress, challenges, etc. But more importantly, it has really focused my work interests. Though I’m in law school, I’m trying really hard to stay focused on international human rights. My time in Guyana has given me the demonstrated experience to get legal opportunities in that field.

4. Describe a challenge you worked to overcome while in PC Guyana.
After one of my fellow volunteers left unexpectedly, I took over her project for a hydroponics greenhouse, which had just been approved for funding. Of course, many delays meant that I had three months to execute a project that had an original timeline of about six months (or, let’s be serious, longer). But with some help from another volunteer and some firm delegation to the partner organization, we got it done. And it was still going after I left!

5. In 5 words, describe your Peace Corps experience.
Books, rum, work, jus’ now.

6. What is your favorite Peace Corps Guyana memory?
So many! But one my favorites was when three of us PCVs joined a group of Johns Hopkins doctors doing medical outreach on the Pomeroon for a week. Accompanied by an HIV/AIDS tester, we did education, testing, and condom distribution. The interesting part was when I had to go to Georgetown and get a carton of condoms, which ended up being about 5000 condoms! Getting that on mini-buses and speedboats to the Essequibo Coast was a bit tricky.

7. What was the hardest part of readjusting to post-Peace Corps life?
I didn’t suffer from much reverse-culture shock that Peace Corps spends days warning us about during the COS conference. Travelling afterwards through South America definitely helped with that. But I remember really wishing I were back in Guyana when I had to take my first set of final exams in law school. The studying was not fun at all, and I remember staring out the library window, trying to figure out why I was here and not in Guyana in a hammock.

8. Which lessons from Peace Corps have you applied in your post-Peace Corps jobs/life?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things come together (magically). You lose years off your life stressing about all the little things.

9. What advice would you give a future or current Peace Corps Volunteer (Guyana or otherwise)?
Really enjoy your time there. You’re never going to be able to have an experience like it in America. And figure out the middle road between being flexible about your work and firm about your role as a PCV in the community – it’s okay to say no if the community is not involved.

10. Would you do Peace Corps again? Where, when and why?
I recently saw one Peace Corps Response invite for soccer coaches in Jamaica and thought “how important is third year of law school?� But I think I’m on a path that won’t give me an opportunity for Peace Corps for a little while. Maybe later in life? Hopefully Peace Corps will still be around…

Are you a Guyana RPCV who would like to be featured in our RPCV Highlight? Email kringer@guyfrog.org.





 

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