Look at me all awk­ward­ly pro­fes­sion­al on my first out­ing for an “offi­cial” RPCV event (I’m the one in yel­low). The awk­ward­ness is only in the pic­ture though. I had a fan­tas­tic “Take an RPCV to Work Day” today. On Tues­day I received an email from the Office of Third Goal and Returned Vol­un­teer Ser­vices, or “RVS INFO” as they appeared to my inbox. It is incred­i­bly use­ful to actu­al­ly be in the loca­tion of my home of record, because they pre­sent­ed me with an amaz­ing net­work­ing and learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty at a local non-prof­it, OneS­tar Foun­da­tion. A quick vis­it to their web­site where the tagline/mission state­ment is “build­ing a stronger non­prof­it sec­tor for a bet­ter texas” and I was hooked. I wrote back as quick­ly as pos­si­ble to try and insure myself one of the three avail­able spots. And I fol­lowed up via tele­phone a day or so lat­er. Well, every­thing worked out, and I spent more than half the day receiv­ing invalu­able insight into and advice from the inner work­ings of a non­prof­it agency filled with super-sharp peo­ple. This is a great pro­gram that the RVS office has put togeth­er, and an even bet­ter spe­cif­ic agen­da for the day from the orga­ni­za­tion, because it is the rare oppor­tu­ni­ty that you get to talk for most of the day in a basi­cal­ly one-on-one fash­ion like this with peo­ple — with­out the stress of it being an inter­view, but real­ly the chance to learn. We shared our Peace Corps sto­ries and then heard about the dif­fer­ent com­po­nents of the orga­ni­za­tion: an overview from the CEO; the fis­cal team let us hijack their meet­ing to ask ques­tions; how the com­plex AmeriCorps*Texas pro­gram works and inter­acts with/through them; a demo of their great Texas Con­nec­tor tool (you should go check it out and try the free demo); an overview of grants man­age­ment; and a round table from this group of amaz­ing­ly and diverse­ly skilled people.

How­ev­er, as out­stand­ing as the day was, I still can’t quite pull it togeth­er to look com­fort­able in the pleas­ant pic­ture tak­en at the end of the event. Sigh. The oth­er RPCV, Jenn in the blue sweater, and I got lunch after­wards and we both laughed at our default “this is my pro­fes­sion­al pose” hand-hold­ing. She did her ser­vice in Swazi­land a cou­ple of years ago, and prob­a­bly could not have had a more oppo­site expe­ri­ence in terms of liv­ing con­di­tions. How­ev­er, it was awe­some to swap sto­ries and find a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties in our expe­ri­ences — espe­cial­ly in terms of the return process and what it is like to go through that logis­ti­cal­ly and emo­tion­al­ly. We find our­selves in remark­ably sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions in terms of not feel­ing set­tled any­where and won­der­ing how you com­mit to things when you don’t know where you will ulti­mate­ly be. Very, very nice to share that expe­ri­ence with some­one. And just to real­ly top it off, look at all the new tags I get to cre­ate for this post!