Update – 近況 (3)

This is the continuation of my previous post – Update (2).

I was again confined in San Salvador until further notice. At that point, my knee was actually doing fine. I didn’t have any problem walking around thought it hurt when I took stairs up and down. So I was somewhat doubtful about the seriousness of my knee injury. Because I was planning to take a vacation and go back to Japan in 3 weeks, I thought of postponing my surgery to later, maybe after my vacation. This idea, of course, was denied by my PCMO. I was strongly discouraged to postpone my surgery.

I was really bored, confused and lost. I questioned myself, “what the hell am I doing here” countless times. I would say it was the most difficult time since I came to El Salvador. It seems as thought it’s nice to have a month of vacation in the capital but it was not fun at all.

To my surprise, the Peace Corps headquarter in Washington DC was quick in responding. I was told that I was going to leave El Salvador on April 19th, Monday. And they decided to have my surgery in Washington DC not in Panama.

Of course, things didn’t go that smooth with the Peace Corps. I waited almost 7 months to be invited and assigned. Same thing. On the morning of April 19th, I was all packed and ready to leave. I went to the office to pick my medical record up. Then, I was told to wait for a minute. 30 minutes later, I was told that there was no space in a hotel that the Peace Corps used in DC and on top of that, the surgeon was out of office. Therefore, they postponed my trip and made me stay in San Salvador for another 3 days. I was really tired of waiting and doing nothing in San Salvador.

To be continued….








Update – 近況 (2)

This is the continuation of my previous post – What I’ve been up to.

It was the first time ever that I’ve done MRI. The machine looks very expensive and it was continuously making some noises. With the MRI film, I went to see the orthopedist again the next day.

His prediction was right. It became apparent that my ACL was torn as well as my meniscus was ruptured. He told me that he was sorry but I needed to get a surgery to fix this problem; and he was right. I did some research on torn ACL and found that I could choose not to have a surgery but that means I wouldn’t be able to play any sports for the rest of my life.

On careful thought, I had been having this knee problem quite a while. I fell while I was playing Frisbee with kids in August last year and I heard a pop. Since then, I felt like my knee became extremely unstable that I dislocated it for several times. I didn’t really dislocate it but I felt like it. I hoped to be able to run and jog, to do some exercise and to do some sports again so I decided to undergo a surgery.

The PCMO who saw me the other day told me that he would consult with Washington DC about surgery. I knew it was going to take a long time to communicate with DC and to decide the details of my surgery.

To be continued…







What I’ve been up to – 近況 (1)

It’s been a while since I wrote last time. I just wanted to make a note for what I’ve been going through.

As I mentioned in my last post (in Japanese), I got injured while playing soccer on March 21st. Nothing really happened during the game but my right knee started hurting on that night. It was really swollen too and the pain was growing as time went by. Next morning, it was very difficult to walk so I decided to go to see doctor.

I went to see one of the PCMOs (Peace Corps Medical Officers) and I was told to have X-ray done at a local hospital. With my film, I went to see a local doctor who’s specialized in orthopedics. There was nothing wrong with my bone but apparently my knee is internally bleeding so he got rid of blood by injecting an empty syringe. It was a painful procedure but after that, my knee pain went away. He told me to take a good rest for 2 weeks.

I was staying at a hotel for about 10 days and then our Country Director (CD) kindly invited me to stay at his house. After 2 weeks, I went to see the orthopedist again and after carefully checking my knee, he told me that my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) might be torn. In order to see if my ACL is torn, I needed to get an MRI so I went to another hospital to undergo this procedure.

To be continued…







ピースコー vs. 青年海外協力隊

去る3月21日、ピースコー vs. 青年海外協力隊のサッカーの試合が行われました。多分・・・エルサルバドルでは初の試みだったと思われます。

で、その会場というのがですね、すごいんですよ。最大で52,900人収容できる、Estaduio Cuscatlán(クスカトランスタジアム)。こんなん↓

It's the largest stadium in El Salvador where national teams play.



Team Peace Corps - Picture by Rosellen Marohn


● ピースコー男 vs. 協力隊男 ○

○ 協力隊男 vs. JICAスタッフ ●

○ ピースコー女 vs. 協力隊女 ●

● ピースコー男 vs. JICAスタッフ ○


その後はピースコー、協力隊ごちゃ混ぜにして、エルサルバドル西部に住むボランティアチーム vs. エルサルバドル東部に住むボランティアチームで試合をしました。こっちの結果はあまり覚えてませんが、確か西部チームが勝ったと思います。

Picture by Claudia Martinez


交流会の様子 Picture by Claudia Martinez


我らがCD・ハイメ氏です。 Picture by Claudia Martinez

話のオチとしては、この日あんまり試合に出なかったにも関わらず、研修中から痛めてた右膝が悪化し、夜パンパンに腫れた上に熱まで出してしまい、翌日医者に診てもらったら膝に血が溜まってたそうで、注射器で血を抜き、その後もずっと首都のホテルで療養中です・・・。サッカーゲームの前日に首都に上がったので、それを含めるとかれこれもう11日も首都にいます。今はもうほとんど治って、血を抜いた後しばらく使ってたサポーターや松葉杖なしでも普通に歩けるのですが、階段や段差が若干怪しい。しかも今エルサルバドルはSemana Santaという休みに入ってしまい、学校もないので、逆に開き直って良い気晴らしと思うようにしています。


Peace Corps and Japan Oversea Cooperation Volunteer – ピースコーと青年海外協力隊


I would like to take this opportunity to briefly explain about the Peace Corps (PC) and Japan Oversea Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV). Although I have some friends who are doing JOCV and have decent amount of knowledge on it, I will no way be able to cover everything and it does not come from someone who’s experienced JOCV. So if someone who knows JOCV better realizes some mistakes, I am more than happy to be corrected 🙂

To begin with, I’d like to make sure that..

“The contents of this post are mine personally and do not reflect any positions of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.”

It’s a rule at the Peace Corps to put this disclaimer to any kinds of publication on the web. If I don’t comply, I can get kicked out from the Peace Corps. Especially, this post talks about a lot about the Peace Corps, I wanted to make it clear. 




First of all, the Peace Corps is an American volunteer program run by the US government. It has started in 1960 and since then more than 200,000 volunteers have served in more than 130 countries in the world.

I myself also have been serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in El Salvador since July 2009. Check out my other blog for my Peace Corps experiences!

There are similar programs in other countries such as JOCV, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) UK, Korea Oversea Volunteer and German Volunteer Service but I think PC is one of the biggest among such programs.

There are a wide variety of positions in PC but things that PCVs do can fall into either of the following categories: Education, Youth and Community Development, Health, Business and Information & Communication Technology, Agriculture, Environment, HIV/AIDS and Food Security.

PCVs go to “less developed” countries throughout the world. That includes most countries in Africa, Central & South America, Eastern Europe South East Asia and Pacific Islands. Pretty much, we go everywhere.

It is a two-year commitment, and PCVs will live in a community just like everybody else in the community. That means you will live with a family or live alone but in a similar house as other people in the community. PCVs get a certain amount of money that is reasonably enough to sustain their lives at the same standard as their fellow community members.

Namely, in El Salvador for example, we get $300 a month for living expense including everything from rent, transportation, food to (sometimes) things we need for our work (papers for workshops for example). But we don’t have to worry about paying for health care at all as PC provides comprehensive full medical coverage during our 2-year services. I’ve gotten sick for three times thus far and I didn’t pay a penny. I even got hospitalized for 3 days but there is no payment. My friend had to get a surgery in Panama, and PC paid for his flight to Panama, hotel and some per dime. So your health is well taken care of during PC services. On top of that, PCVs also receive $225 readjustment allowance every month. It will accumulate for two years; therefore, PCVs will receive about $6075 when it is done. (Recently, the amount of this readjustment allowance has been increased and now we receive $275 a month.)

Speaking of sickness, it is pretty common that PCVs get sick. As I mentioned, I had to stay in hospital for 3 days to combat ameba in my stomach. I might also get malaria, dengue, chagas disease, rabies and all sorts of other bacterial infections here in El Salvador. So PCVs receive a lot of vaccines during training. This is same for JOCVs too by the way, as they live in a similar living condition.

Speaking of which, by the way, there is a intense training at the beginning of PC service. When you are invited to serve as a PCV, you will not be a PCV from the beginning. In other words, you will become a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT) first and if you are able to finish the training, you will swear in as a PCV! The way training works depends on each country. In Peace Corps El Salvador, for example, we got a two-month pre-service training (PST1) first, which mainly focuses on language training, and we were sent off to our respective sites to do community diagnostic. After a month or so, we went back to training center to get a two-week pre service training (PST2), which is targeted to learn technical skills. What you learn during the PST2 depends on what your community needs. That is why you are sent to your site without having technical training. I heard other countries do three-month PST and that’s it. We also have in-service trainings (ISTs) every once in a while.

I have been told from many people that PC looks good on your resume. I heard that volunteering experiences are highly valued in the US so your opportunities once PC is done will expand greatly.

That is pretty much it for PC…I hope I am not missing anything.


Now, let me talk about JOCV.

There is one misunderstanding that many people including I make. JOCV (Japanese site) is one of the programs that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) does therefore it is not right to say “JICA volunteers.” JICA is Japanese equivalent of USAID. While USAID and PC are completely different organizations, JOCV and JICA has a close relationship as JOCV is one of the programs run by JICA. JICA is technically not a governmental organization; institutions like JICA are semi-governmental organizations called Independent Administrative Institutions. In such institutions, the planning functions remain within government-based ministries while operating functions are run by each organization, utilizing more efficient management methods of private sector. Their budget comes from the government but each institution has given a considerable autonomy on how to use it.

JOCV has started in 1965, 5 years after PC, and many people believe that JOCV was modeled after PC. However, according to the JOCV website, the idea of sending young people abroad for international development was already planned before 1960. Whether it was modeled after PC or not, JOCV works just like PC.

JOCVs go to developing countries around the world but I think their positions are more diverse. While you can do PC right after graduating from college, because PCV positions are general, positions at JOCV are more specific and therefore a lot of them require some type of license and experiences. Some of the positions unique to JOCV include ceramics instructor, auto mechanics, sport instructor, judo instructor etc. That is not to say, however, that you cannot do JOCV right after graduating from college. I have met someone who just graduated from college and is currently doing JOCV. But these positions are more competitive.

It is also a two-year commitment, and JOCVs also live in a community with families. A slight difference though is that while PCVs are allowed to live alone, all JOCVs are basically required to live with host families.

In El Salvador, JOCVs get $450 for their living expense in addition to rent paid by the organization, and their readjustment allowance is about $900. It is much more than what PCVs get; however, I have heard from various sources that JOCV is not as valued as PC. One of the possible reasons is that Japanese companies prefer to recruit fresh graduates because each company has its own training program. Therefore, it is important that new employees do not have any experiences. This might seem weird but new graduates are highly valued in Japan, and frequent job change is not valued (although the situation is gradually changing). Thus, many companies would not want to hire someone who’s gone abroad to get two years of “additional (and maybe unnecessary to them)” experiences. This is one of the biggest disadvantages of JOCV. So both PC and JOCV have good and bad points.

JOCVs receive a 2-month-pre-departure training in Japan. I am not familiar with the contents of this training but the main focus is language. Then JOCVs are sent to each country and receive another one-month training.

This is pretty much everything that I know about JOCV. Hope everything is correct information.


(Japanese text follows)




ピースコーは、1960年にケネディの大統領令により作られました。それ以来20万人以上のアメリカ人がボランティアとして、133カ国以上で働いてきました。他の国にも、政府またはそれに準じた組織が運営する同じような組織は多いです。日本の青年海外協力隊を始め、イギリスにはVoluntary Service Overseas (VSO), 韓国にもKorean Volunteer Overseaという組織があり、ドイツにも似た組織があります。おそらくピースコーはその中でもかなり大きい方だと思います。ちなみにピースコーについて他にも書いたことがあるので、こちらも参考に。




同じような環境というと、まぁ例を上げれば、ピースコーエルサルバドルでは、毎月300ドルが生活費として支給されます。このお金で、家賃、食費、光熱費、通信費などをカバーします。基本的に物価は先進国よりかなり低いので、300ドルで一応やっていけます。が、かなり厳しくなる月も多いのも事実。この額を値上げしてくれることを切に望んでいます(涙)。ただピースコーの良いところは、福利厚生がしっかりしているところです。こちらに赴任してから何度か病気になったり、入院も経験しましたが、これらの費用は全部ピースコーがカバーしてくれます。薬代もでます。というか薬はタダで貰えます(実際はピースコーが代金を支払っているわけですが)。僕の友人はパナマで手術を受けたわけですが、飛行機代から手術代、生活費まで全部ピースコーが出してくれたそうです。なので、健康面に関しては、かなり安心できます。それにプラスで、Readjustment Allowanceといって、帰国後の準備金のようなものが毎月225ドル(最近275ドルに増えました)もらえます。27ヶ月なので、6075ドル(増加後だと7425ドル)全部終わったらもらえます。


研修について。ピースコーの選考に合格してから、国内での研修はありません。出発前日にホテルに集まって顔合わせをするぐらい。逆に、赴任国に着いてからすぐ、2ヶ月の研修第1弾が始まります(Pre-Service Training 1=PST1)。ちなみにこの研修期間中は、正式なボランティアではなく、研修生(Peace Corps Trainee = PCT)と呼ばれます。この2ヶ月の研修をやり終えて晴れて、ボランティアとして宣誓就任式を迎えるわけです。この研修では主に言語の習得に励みます。このPST1が終わると、それぞれの任地に派遣されます。ちなみに任地は自分では選べません。上司と何回かのインタビューと通して、ピースコーがどこに派遣されるかを決めます。任地での最初に2ヶ月は、その任地での問題識別に費やされます。その後研修第2弾があり、ここでもっと専門的な知識などを学ぶことになります。これは2週間。さらに赴任中の2年間の間に、In-Service Training(IST)という研修が何回かあるようです。




エルサルバドルでのJICAのプレゼンスはかなり大きなもので、バスに乗ってると、田舎の村の入口に看板が置いてあって、この村の学校はJICAによって建てられました、みたいなメッセージが書いてあったりします。その他、日本出身だみたいなことを言うと、ああJICAですね?、とすぐでてくるぐらい、日本の国際協力はエルサルバドルで有名のようです。現在エルサルバドルにいる青年海外協力隊員は50人前後のようです。JICAが有名なため、協力隊員はよくVoluntario de JICAと呼ばれます。それは間違いではないのですが、厳密に言うと、青年海外協力隊はJICAのプログラムの一つなので、ここでは協力隊員と呼ぶことにさせていただきます。







というわけで、Peace Corpsと青年海外協力隊について大まかなことを書いてみました。