Peace Corps Ukraine: Staging in DC
It feels like a lifetime has gone by since I said goodbye to people in Austin but it has only been 10 days. We have done so much in that short amount of time! I will try and recount as much as I can.
** Please be advised if you are a future PCV your pre-service and staging may be a bit different or totally similar it all depends. This is what our experience was life**
When I first read the packet information I thought staging would be longer and more in depth than it actually was. All in all it lasted from 5pm one day until 1pm the next day.
I did start off with a bit of a scare. When we tried to check in at the hotel, they could not find me in the system. I immediately though I had missed an email telling me I had failed some unforeseen something and was no longer invited to go. I called the emergency phone from an email we were given and they were like well, you are on our list so we will work it out with the hotel.
Thankfully when I got back they had me in a room. During Pre-Service you will most likely be sharing a room with another person. I moved in with a volunteer that had been in DC already for a few days.
We had check in at 3 pm. I thought from the email that this meant we had to check into the hotel at 3pm. I was wrong. We had to start checking in with the Peace Corps. They had us line up by last name and answer a survey while we waited to get our passports back and our debit card with the staging stipend on it.
Once we checked in we had free time until 5 when we had our welcome meeting. I spent that time in the lobby hanging out with my parents like the nerd that I am. :)
Our meeting the first night was just a get to know you, get to know us, and what this will be like with the staff. We just went around the room and introduced ourselves and said what the weirdest thing we packed was.
Two people said Yoga mats, and if you read by blog post about packing you will understand why I very audibly went "HOW"
I said that the weirdest thing I brought was a giant stack of cards for the 1000 letter project. But now that I have unpacked at my host families house, I would say the weirdest thing that I brought was my lunch box that says " Hangry" on it.
The meeting the first night was nothing more than a get to know you and then we were free for dinner. I was worried about making friends and making good impressions but every single person there is in the same boat, and every single person is worried and excited. I went with a small group to M street in Georgetown for Chipotle. A large large group of volunteers went to Fo, Fa. some sort of asian food that I can't pronounce or spell. They ended up getting in a snowball fight. The people I went out with ended up back in my hotel room playing board games. (Obviously the cool kids).
One of the games we played was "Heads Up Charades" where I learned I do a very good (⸮) little john impression in the accents category.
The second day of training, our group was split in two because we were pretty big (77 people strong). We spent the morning talking through fears, concerns, policies, ways to mitigate trouble. It was pretty chill to be honest. Our schedule was a bit in flux the whole day because of the weather. All in all it was a nice introduction to this experience.
We were broken up into teams of 9 or 10. Each team has a group leader. Each bus has 4 leaders. Each of the group leaders has a departure day responsibility. Those responsibilities are.
Hotel leader: they are responsibly for making sure nothing is left in the lobby. As well as tipping all hotel staff that helped us.
Let me tell you about storing our luggage. 77 people are packing for two years. We took over every single room imaginable. I will insert a gif or two below to show you what the luggage situation looked like.
Bus leader: they are responsible for making sure everyone gets themselves and their bags on the bus. This person was also in charge of tipping the bus driver.
It was in the middle of a snow storm ( as a southern girl this was a snow storm to me) ( see gif below for loading conditions)
Document leader: (me!): We were to hand out the Peace Corps issued passports on the bus and carry the documents from the training earlier that day.
This job was not that hard. It was a great way to start putting faces to names. We also got to hand out some pretty sweet key chains.
Airport leader: I'm pretty sure their airport leader's job was to make sure everyone got out of the bus and into the airport and then checked in.
Truth be told I had checked out at that point. I had been going going going since like 6:50 am and chose to just hang out with my parents at the airport.
Staging flies by. Before you know it you will be in a new country with some awesome new friends.
Stay tuned for more updates on our flight and Pre-Service Orientation.