Staging started pretty crazily. Leaving extremely early in the morning to go catch a 7am flight. Of course that had its own issues, namely a mishap of thinking I forgot my WHO card proving my yellow fever vaccination. Of course, it was in the last pocket I checked!
So a 90-minute flight to Philadelphia ended with meeting up with a few other RAP volunteers and a single LIFE volunteer feeling a bit left out. I packed a suitcase, hiking backpack, backpack, and a camera bag. No packing list just yet, but I’ll be having another post about it soon (eventually)!
Everyone is super awesome. Getting to know all of my future volunteers was a lot of fun, and staging wasn’t bad either! We just discussed basic stuff at the time, from security to what we’d be doing while there. Afterwards involved getting dinner and more getting to know each other, followed by an hour-and-a-half nap before we needed to be shipped off to New York for the flight to South Africa.
And let me tell you, a sixteen-hour flight is rough. By the end I didn’t know what was even real, and watching the sun rise, set, and rise again really messes with your internal clock! But after a layover in Johannesberg and a short jump to Zambia, we emerged bleary-eyed onto the tarmac and to a warm Peace Corps welcome!
The ride to the motel where we stayed started with us learning the president of Zambia was on his way to the airport. What prompted this knowledge was a convoy of Zambians driving towards the airport. They were yelling, honking, waving, and hanging half out of windows to show their support (that’s the kind of politics I can get behind!)
The last few days have been a mix between rushing to get a ton of things done in just a few hours, to hours of downtime. We’ve met some current PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers), as well as the PCVLs (Peace Corps Volunteer Leaders) for a majority of the provinces. They’re all an amazing source of knowledge and have made me more and more excited to finally get started with community building. I’ve also learned that Peace Corps loves their acronyms!
The first day we were given medical kits and the PC Medical Officers sufficiently scared us into thinking any cut you get that breaks the skin will get infected and cause you to die. This was quickly followed by cutting my foot while playing ultimate frisbee and a liberal application of antibiotic cream.
I’ve also learned I’m going to be learning Bemba! Bemba is the most-used language in the country, or at least the one taught to the most PCVs. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t really narrow down where I’ll end up being placed! The Northwest province is out (the land of pineapples and honey) as the two languages there are Kaonde and Lunda, but most of the rest of the country is still open!
It’s been amazing here (despite the heat and humidity!), and I can’t wait to get started with training this coming Monday, and moving in with my host family tomorrow. I may be lacking in internet so it may be a bit until my next post, but I hope you stay tuned for my next installment!