Erin Capina, 127
Note: Interview answers are not verbatim but rather a summary because interview was conducted over the phone
What did your job as part of the counseling and outreach unit (COU) at headquarters (HQ) entail?
At HQ regions are divided amongst the staff and my focus was on the EMA (Europe, Mediterranean, and Asia) region, one colleague focused on Europe and I focused on Mediterranean and Asia. At COU we focused on providing direct care and education to support both volunteers and PCMOs. We also provide trainings for volunteers and staff.
Is that different or similar to your new role here in Thailand?
It’s completely the same; my job is still considered an HQ position, just an HQ position in Bangkok. It is easier because the time zones are now the same, I can do daytime calls instead of middle of the night calls. Site visits are also now a little easier to plan and pay for.
Did you serve as a volunteer? If so, when and where?
No, I wasn’t a volunteer but my daughter served as volunteer in Morocco from 2011-2013. I visited her and her husband for about a month during her service and liked the experience of seeing her site and visiting the sites of other volunteers. Shortly afterwards I got the job at HQ.
What coping strategies do you suggest for when site gets too overwhelming or gets volunteers down?
There are a whole host of ways to manage but it’s helpful if you can resist being negative. I know that’s easier said than done but negativity can drag you down, if you’ve had practice resisting negativity before Peace Corps that’s good. Breaking down problems into manageable portions and celebrating the small accomplishments are also good strategies. Also, don’t forget to manage your physical health as well.
Have you eaten yet?
Yes, I had breakfast.
Are you learning Thai?
I am, I have a Thai teacher. He is an old friend of 30 years from America who moved to Thailand 20 years ago. He has a system for teaching adult learners Thai (color coded system, etc.) and after two lessons I can say some things and can recognize some letters. I’ve also studied Mandarin Chinese before so, while I know that Mandarin Chinese tones are different from Thai tones, I am familiar with tonal languages so it’s not all new to me.
We are still waiting for a haiku from our interim country director, Ken, but would you like to submit a haiku about your experiences in Thailand thus far?
Dreams roam fragrant sois –
parts of me still arriving.
A month in Bangkok.
Categories: PC Staff Interviews