Peace Corps Ukraine: Swearing In!
Hi! My name is Katie and I am an OFFICIAL PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER!
Y'all I can not believe training is over. I am sitting on my couch bed in my new city and will officially begin work on Wednesday.
On Friday we swore in. The pictures remind me of my college graduation. I have to dumbest smile plastered on my face. See below:
Swearing in kind of felt like a themed graduation ceremony. We had been training, we were all really close and a lot of people work the traditional Ukrainian shirt/ dress called a vyshyvanka. It was like graduation from college. Primed to go out into the world, on your own and serve.
We had a trial run of us getting on stage at the hotel the night before. They told us all the previous years they had not done that and the volunteers didn't know where to stand and looked like a blob.
Before we swore in we broke up into our sectors one last time and were met with government officials representing our sectors. So someone in youth and sport and someone in economic development. They were really interesting to speak with, but you could feel the excitement grow as more and more people and more and more press started to file in. We were all ready to get the show on the road.
We were briefed just before the ceremony started to rise when the ambassador walked in. I found myself wondering if she gets an "at bat"...The president gets one. But I guess they don't play that every time he walks into the room.
Moral of that story, she didn't. I just happened to look back and see them come in. Like a ripple effect we all stood until they got on stage and told us to be seated.
The Peace Corps staff live streamed the events to our parents via the Peace Corps Ukraine facebook page. My TCF was the one operating the camera for a good bit of it and I told him that my parents were going to be awake and watching it live (@4am) so he promised to make sure to get my face for them.
I'm forever grateful a) for my parents in general, but also for the fact that they would wake up that early to watch it and not just stream it later. But then I though about how sophomore year I woke up equally as early (pretty sure we just didn't go to bed) to watch Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge get married.
We listened to a lot of speeches, two given by fellow Peace Corps volunteers and the others given by the government officials we spoke with earlier. Shout out to Fabenson and Mary for first and foremost being great human beings and secondly for rocking their speech in Ukrainian!
Finally it was time for us to come on stage. One by one our regional managers called out our name, where we were from, and where we were going. We filed on stage and followed the masking tape lines so that we stood just as we practiced. My group got to stand in the front row because we are in region 8!! (which is the last region)
Swearing in was surreal. The ambassador is there, the country director, training director. All of the counterparts have their phones out. Everyone was watching. It felt surreal to swear the exact same oath I watched my friends swear when joining the Air Force. It felt surreal to swear to defend my country against all enemies foreign and domestic. But what I think made it feel so surreal was that it came with the realization that this was real. That I was officially a Peace Corps volunteer. That I had done it, survived training and was going to get to serve my country. Serve my country!
After swearing in there was a giant cake because it was the 25th anniversary of the Peace Corps being in Ukraine. Of course I took a picture with it. (It also was totally delicious.)
Once the ceremony ended the press swarmed. It was crazy. The newly minted volunteers went on stage to take pictures with counterparts, specialists and friends. My counterpart wanted to meet with the ambassador since the windows on america is an embassy funded program but she was out of there so quick due to the amount of press.
I ended up getting interviewed twice. I tried to find copies of them but haven't been able to yet. My counterpart said she knows where to get them so I will try and post them later. I will add them to the bottom of a subscriber email when I find them ( So subscribed so you don't miss out of my voice being dubbed in Ukrainian)
After swearing in it was all a little hectic, we were all so excited because we had done it but it was also bittersweet because just as soon as the ceremony was over people started leaving. We had scheduled times to catch out trains, or buses or taxis. It happened so fast I missed people in the first group because they left during the press thing.
Thankfully we will all be back together soon for a training!
I have put the links to the press below.