Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sheraton, Cheesesteak, and Not Being Involved with an Intelligence Agency

All of these things, and then some, help characterize my first couple days with Peace Corps. Let's start from when I packed, at around 8:30 the night before leaving home.

Let's get serious here. Number one, I've never been really on the ball about anything. Number two, I mean that about packing especially. I've come to the realization that analyzing the packing process far in advance, maybe even packing once, taking everything out, and packing again, isn't worth the time, at least for me. I wanted to enjoy my last moments at home, so I laid out my luggage the night before, went through the room, and packed what I would need.

However, I must admit that my parents and I thought it through ahead of time. I bought some new socks (a few pairs of which were given by my sister for my birthday. Thanks, Catherine Grace.), hiking boots (Tims, just 'cause I'm like that), running shoes, and maybe some other stuff I can't think of right now. I also talked it over with Mom and Dad and weeded out a few things and put some other things in, so, no, I'm not that much of a slacker.

Anyway, with my stuff packed up and a so-so attitude about what was coming (I mean, come on, who wouldn't have doubts the night before he leaves?), I got up at around five Saturday morning to roll out with Mom and Dad to the Austin airport to catch my flight to Philadelphia.

After landing and walking back and forth like an idiot outside baggage claim at the Philly airport, I finally figured out how to get the shuttle to the Sheraton (It sounds retarded, but...okay, maybe it is.) I wasn't feeling quite as stressed at this point, and the enthusiastic chatter of fellow volunteers on the shuttle eased my nerves even more.

We arrived at the hotel and completed and turned in some paperwork. We soon had our first meeting, all sixty-one of us (I couldn't believe it.). A great speech was given by the gentleman who would be conducting most of our meetings and activities, Kibala Wewegame (Sorry, Kibala, if I've misspelled your name.). He spoke with great passion and enthusiasm. You could tell that he meant what he was saying. For a man from Sri Lanka to speak so highly of Peace Corps and the United States really meant a lot to me.

Saturday and yesterday consisted of meetings that addressed several themes, from dealing with attention to Peace Corps policies (one of which is, yes, not being involved with an intelligence agency before joining. I'd only be so cool as to say I have.).

I must say I'm very pleased with our group of volunteers. We come from all over the United States and vary greatly in age. For many of the volunteers, I feel I'm almost looking in the mirror, while I really look up to many of them as well.

Last night was a final night of revelry before leaving the United States for some time. Wanting to enjoy the States one last time, I had a liberal amount of Yuengling Lager. It wasn't as much a desire as it was an obligation.

Staging's pretty much done at this point, and I'm due to be downstairs packed in twenty-seven minutes. Perhaps I should get on that. The next time I write. I'll be in Azerbaijan.