TWO IN A ROW what is going on?!?!?!
It's not nearly as much effort as you think. I'm just posting a speech I gave at our swearing-in ceremony. At the end of our ten weeks of training, Peace Corps and the US Embassy put together a fancy shindig with drinks and appeteasers. (seriously they were a giant tease, reminding us how good food could be if it wanted to) And a couple people from our group were selected to give speeches during the processions. Yours truly was the middle presenter. The high-larious and entertaining cream filling of an intellectual sandwich. Below is my sugary input. I put a few comments in parenthesis to explain some of the inside jokes. Enjoy peeps. =)
I can’t remember the look on my parents face when I told them I was joining the Peace Corps… mostly because I wasn’t there. My 19 year old sister (at the time, now she is 21. Time sure is funny, started applying to Peace Corps two years before I actually departed. Two years of your past sure seem a lot shorter than two years of your future.) Kelley had taken advantage of a rare opportunity where she possessed information my parents did not. And once the cat was out of the bag, Ugandans, that means secret’s out! My parents blind sighted me with one giant bombardment of a phone call. (It wasn’t that much of a bombardment, I just wanted to use the word. My stepdad was calm, cool, and collected, anything else would mean the world was ending) After the initial shock of their call, A face, which I’m sure was similar to the one my parents were hosting only minutes earlier, I did the only reasonable thing I could think of, return the favor and tell my parents the secret I’d been keeping about my sister. “Well Kelley got a dog from the pound!” Looking back… I see now why my pebble of information didn’t make nearly the splash Kelley’s boulder did.
Some of us had 8 months to mentally and physically prepare for this next chapter of our life, others of us had 5 weeks thanks to a combination of essay writing procrastination and failure of the United States Postal Service. (At this point in the speech I raised my hand and pointed to myself =)) Regardless we all found the nerves to show up in Philadelphia with forty-something equally crazy strangers who were looking to save the world and maybe learn a little more about themselves along the way.
One of the Peace Corps Slogans is “How far are you willing to go” On August 3rd we found our answer to that question when we traveled roughly 7714 miles to our new home. Or in Spanish, Casa nueva, because my malfunctioning brain has never in my life pushed so many Spanish words to the front of my mind as it did during my Runyankore language test. Poor Kabayo (my language tester, and yes I see the Irony that Caballo is Spanish for horse)… There were points during that interview where I looked so confused he probably thought I’d been bitten by one of those rabid bats hiding in our homestay rooms.
Anyways, back to our arrival in Uganda. Months of anticipation and excitement building up, culminating in finally landing at the Entebbe airport. We’d read about the beautiful rolling hills, flourishing greenery, and breathtaking sunsets. And upon arrival, we had to trust that what we’d read on Wikipedia was true because beyond the “Mzungu!” shouting taxi drivers, the darkness obscured our view.
I explained to mom back home that Training is kinda like Chemistry 1; A weed-out class. If you can make it through that first class, you’ll have no problem making it through the rest. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, training was our weed out class. And our first night here was our first pop quiz. Think about it… we didn’t shower or sleep for a day and a half, landed in Africa Darkness, pushed through the tears as some of us realized our belongings had been stolen (again I raise my hand and point to myself, RIP brandnewbirthdaygifttomyselfnevergottouseyou Nintendo 3DS, and Zelda Ocarina of Time for the 3DS) unloaded our luggage at 1am in our first delightful combination of the aforementioned Africa Darkness and newfound Uganda Mud, and proceeded to cram more women into a single room than I thought possible. That little gem of a guesthouse, later affectionately called the orphanage, and renamed even later to pee-tree dish room of death, will give me nightmares for the rest of my life. Next we were hustled to our first official African meal of Peanut Butter and Bread. Interesting how a meal we originally thought so little of, now has the potential to be the highlight of our week. And finally were introduced to people who just couldn’t wait the 5 hours till breakfast time to meet us. Like we’re thaaat exciting anyways. Needless to say, it was a doosie of a pop quiz. But we are stronger than we know, and in every sense, that is why we are here.
As our first meal and introduction came to an end, we were told by a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) that we aren’t going to save the world, which sidenote: may not be the best motivational tool. Either way, I beg to differ. I think that if any organization has the potential to irreversibly make a difference, it’s the Peace Corps. Sure, one of us alone can only do so much. But as we learned yesterday, we aren’t alone, we are 45 being added to the 1081 Uganda Peace Corps Volunteers who came before us. Change is inevitable, it is up to us to shape that change for the better. Good luck PCVS and Congratulations on passing Chem 1!