I have to apologize for this blog. It’s very outdated at this point and not near finished. I haven’t had internet access except for rare instances on my Kindle (which is very slow and I can’t really type on it) and this first instance at an internet cafe where I’m surrounded by Thai kids playing video games. I wrote this on Word about three weeks ago, so it in no way encompasses everything that’s happened. I hope it will tide everyone over, though. I don’t think I’ll be online much during training (through March 23), so please write me a letter if you find the time. Even a post card would be great. My mailing address is on the previous blog.
I couldn’t be more excited for the next two years of my life.
As I write this now, I’m sit outside a shaded patio of my host family’s house. I’ve been trying to think of what my opening line would be of my first blog overseas. I came up with the idea of the first sentence when I was still with the rest of the Peace Corps volunteers at the hotel a few days ago. My move yesterday to a home with a family I’ve never met or speak the same language, has not deterred my ambition for my time with the Peace Corps. However, I do keep reminding myself that I’m still in the honeymoon stage of this adventure and things are going to get tough.
I’ll do my best to wrap up the last week or so of my life without keeping you locked to a rear-lit computer screen for too long. I’ll also mention that I’m writing this Sunday, January 16, 2011 and I’m not sure when I’ll actually be able to get online and publish it.
The week prior to departure was everything I hoped it would be. Friends and family went out of their way to say goodbye. It started to wear on me as the week went on in that it was getting sad. I even managed to meet a great girl and go on a fantastic date. Unfortunately, it will probably be our first and last. Take care, Stacey.
My nerves were riding me that week. I didn’t really realize it until they calmed how bad they were. I wasn’t functioning properly. They started to cool when I got on the plane in Minneapolis on my way to pre-service training in Philadelphia for one day. It was on this flight that I met my first Peace Corps friend, Mark Del Greco. Mark’s from Sandstone, MN.
Once I got to the Holiday Inn In downtown Philadelphia, meeting new friends was as easy as beating the Pittsburgh Pirates. After only three hours of sleep followed by the three-hour flight and then seven hours of training, I was running on adrenaline when we decided to get dinner down the street. I can’t even tell you where we went, but it was good and I got to know even more people.
We left Philadelphia already knowing our flight from JFK airport was delayed at least four hours. After a lot of haggling by a few volunteers (thanks, Connie) and sitting around by the rest of us, we ended up taking the same flight to Tokyo and Delta put us up in rooms for the evening near the airport just west of Tokyo. It was here I had my friend Japanese beer while watching game shows with my roommate, Paul. Paul’s from Indianapolis.
The following afternoon we made our way to the Tokyo airport (Narita) and waiting for our flights to Bangkok. All of this waiting around made it even easier to meet the other 65 volunteers. There are a wide range of us from recent grads (the youngest is 21) to quite a few older women. When I say older, I mean over 40. I now have new friends that span the United States. There isn’t a region that isn’t represented. There are actually four of us from Minnesota in some way.
The Peace Corps staff was waiting at the airport for us with a genuine welcome. We got on a bus and headed for our hotel in a city about an hour north of Bangkok. We had to get up bright and early the next morning for training. Luckily, some of this training involved getting our new bikes!
Looking back, I’m realizing how I need to write everyday in able to keep up on details. This last week has been a blur of organized chaos. It has so much fun and I can’t be more thankful for the Peace Corps staff. They all have a great sense of humor and are very approachable. The staff consists of four Americans and about 25 Thais.
I’ll summarize. I have a brand new Wheeler mountain bike that I will be using a lot as my host family is located in an area that’s more distant than most volunteers from the main hub site we’ll be meeting at twice a week for training. Not only that, but we also have to gather everyday for language training at a site in our community. However, my group’s site is not in the local community, it’s at the main hub site which is just short of five miles away the way the crow flies (I brought my GPS).
I have been having so much fun. All of those nervous feelings melted away as I kept meeting my fellow volunteers that first day in Philadelphia.
One of my worries was I wouldn’t fit in as well being slightly older than the average volunteer (28). As it turns out, there are many other “tweeners” like me and I feel no distance between the volunteers in their early twenties. These are mature people taking on the same gigantic task I am.
February 5 Update: I still couldn’t be more excited for the next two years. It is the hardest job I’ve ever loved. It’s one hell of a trip.