Monday, June 4, 2012

Staging - Day 1

While I knew another PCT (Peace Corps Trainee, I'm not an official volunteer yet) was on my flight, we didn't actually meet up till after we disembarked.

After which we were giddy for a bit as we realized our trip to Ethiopia was actually getting under way.  And then we hopped in the taxi and realized how little we knew. How would we get paid in country? How does the language work? Later that day? I had a mini drama attack when the hotel came in sight an I realized I had no idea how to check in. Was the room under my name? Or the Peace Corps?

Really, just getting our bags on the cart and through the door was difficult, we have so much stuff! (I have a large suitcase, a mid size one, a carry on backpack, and a stuffed purse which pretty much contains most of my actual books. And that with Christine's stuff...we needed a minivan just for two people).

But as soon as we stepped into the lobby we knew we were in the right place. There were signs pointing to where registration was, and they simply asked us our names and checked us in. They're used to this (PC uses this hotel a lot, as evident by the alarm in the room is preset for the right time) Christine and I were thankfully in the same room. It's so nice being with someone who has some familiarity with home, and it certainly made travel easier with someone rather than alone.  

It was rather easy to tell who was a PCT, based on luggage upon arrival, and we wrangled up a group of people for lunch before Staging. Trying to get as much out of America as we can before we leave, we had nice pizza.

And then came Staging. It's hour after hour of information. Challenges you might come across, reviews of PC's core values and goals, plans for the night and tomorrow morning, talking about our anxieties, and getting to know everyone. (Also, I learned Ethiopia has 13 months. For real. I'll have to learn more and tell you all about it.) One of the points that was really driven home was that we put so much into getting here, and all have similar issues on our minds. I am amongst people that instantly understand what I've been going through during the application process, about dealing with how people have reacted to the news I've joined the Peace Crops and their varying degrees of support. It's great to have people to share a journey, physical and mental with.

On top of that, we're all great people to get along with. At lunch, and later at dinner with sushi (PC gave us $120 to spend over the course of the night, we couldn't resist the call of sushi. But we all pretty much have most of our money left), conversations were lively.  I felt that if you looked at us from the outside, it would have been impossible to tell we had only met 6 hours prior. (Though, be bubbly could also be how we hid how nervous we are all.)

But I found that life was like that when I was a tour guide on Mackinac Island too.  You bond real quickly to people going through the issues you are, form a support group and create friends. And all 70 in my training group are great people. I can already tell we'll all be close.

I think these next 27 months will be okay, with future friends like these.

Tomorrow, our flight doesn't leave till 11:15, but we're checking out of the hotel by 5:30 oh boy.


Matt said...

Glad to hear staging went well for you, Jenny! Also happy that you and Christine could connect. Good luck tomorrow and have a safe flight! (I'm obviously going to stalk it on I'm so excited for you! And because of your post, I truly cannot wait for my own staging in just a few months!! You'll be an official PCV by then, and I'll be so jealous :P
Melkam guzo yehunelesh (I tried to find "have a good trip" in Amharic haha)

Liwi said...

So glad to hear you guys are bonding well and get to share your experiences with this journey! You will make amazing friends for a lifetime! Thinking of you!

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