My dear friend Mike is currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho. For those of you who don't know the story of Mike- I met Mike during my first study abroad experience in The Gambia in spring 2007. We became very close friends during our time there as we interned, took sociology classes , and made Gambian friends [and memories!] together. We became very good friends with a Peace CorpsVolunteer named Dan and we were a little trio of awesome. Dan really inspired both of us to be volunteers, and we both felt that it was going to be something we pursued post graduation.
I supported Mike throughout his application process and he says that he wouldn't have made it to Lesotho without me- and I know that I wouldn't have made it all the way to nomination without him! Mike has been in Lesotho since June 2010, and having him be there has given me some perspective on what it might be like for everyone at home to keep in touch (K.I.T.) with me when I am a volunteer!
Although it may surprise some of you, a majority of Peace Corps volunteers use mobile phones during their service. Cell phone usage is everywhere, all over the world these days- when I was in The Gambia (the smallest country in continental Africa) having a cell phone or calling anyone anywhere was no big thing! Then you may think that sending me a text or calling me on the phone internationally is gonna be $$$$$, and this is where the joy of SKYPE comes in. I can send Mike a text from Skype for $.097. I have it set up so when and if he chooses to reply, it gets sent to my cell (you can't reply a text back to Skype unfortunately) and it is always cheaper to receive an international text than send one. I'm not saying I'll be texting as much as I text in the good ol' unlimited-text-messaging US of A, but you will be able to basically send me an instant message for cheaper (and less time!) then a post letter. And sometimes that's all I'll need or you will need to feel close! I am always happy to have even a 2 message texting exchange with Mike when I can.
Tomorrow Mike and I have a "Skype to cell" date where I'm going to call Mike's cell from my Skype (for a charge of course) and we will be able to chat voice to voice for the first time since he left! Skype credit is simple and easy to buy and definitely worth getting the chance to talk to my dear friend who is halfway across the world for as long as I feel like $pending! Skype is a godsend people, and if you don't already have it- download it now! I plan on doing plenty of Skype tutorials for all of you loved ones of mine so I know you will be prepared to K.I.T. with me!
Earlier today I got a text from Mike telling me that he FINALLY received the care package I sent! I don't even remember when exactly I sent it- it feels like forever ago. But when I decided to send him a package I sent him a text to ask what he wanted, and I filled it up with as much of his requests as I could. I put in the surprise of M&M's (which were part of a very clutch package that I received while in The Gambia and shared with Mike) and he said he was so excited to see it. And he was enjoying some of the spaghetti I sent him while he was texting! I know how much a care package can feel good when you are far away from home. I received the best packages (to much of my fellow students' jealousy) during my semesters in The Gambia thanks to my amazing family! It was fun to be a part of that for Mike, who is in a mud hut in the rural area of a tiny tiny country halfway across the world, so far away from his friends and family. I wonder what I will be craving and pleading for you guys to send me when I am gone- I am sure there will be an extensive post about it for your viewing pleasure :-)
Having Mike be abroad with Peace Corps has given me the perspective that it will NOT be impossible or sad or too much of a burden for me to keep in touch with my loved ones and for all of my loved ones to keep in touch with me! And so here is my manifesto people- send me your email addresses, read my blog, download SKYPE, and I will put all of your phone numbers into my Skype and address book. And it won't be like we are too far away from each other at all :-)