The last week or so of training was a little surreal for everybody as we realized that we would soon be packing up all of our stuff, moving out of our first host family’s house, and taking the first step towards swear-in and becoming real volunteers…EEK. It’s strange when the time you’ve been looking forward to for ten weeks arrives, and all the sudden you’re like, “waaaaait a sec, can we back up a little bit?!”
Packing up my room was quite the experience. Firstly because of the sheer amount of stuff I was supposed to cram into a certain amount of space…I think the amount of stuff I left Philadelphia with was reasonable, considering I was moving for two years. When you add on top of all that a PC Med Kit, a very cumbersome bucket water filtration system, a mosquito net, and tons of training stuff….well, you get the drift. Somehow, I crammed it all in. Then came the hard part, saying goodbye to the fam. This was harder than I expected, and I just kept thinking about how these people had sacrificed one of their two bedrooms, and all 6 slept in one bedroom for two months, just so they could host me in their home. They fed me, attempted to clothe me (my host mom is teeny tiny and delusionally thought her jeans would fit me, let’s just say that was a comical moment when she insisted I try them on the first time…), and just made sure I was really well-taken care of. It was hard saying goodbye to my host mom and all 4 kids (had to say goodbye to the host dad the night before since he goes to work at 4am some mornings), but I did it and got in a cab to head to Red Grounds. Another bus ride to Georgetown later and…
We arrived back at the WINDJAMMAHHHHHH, which will henceforth be known as the greatest place on Earth; at least for the next two years of my life. We all reeeaaally enjoyed hanging out together this time, even moreso than the last time, since we knew it was our last few days together for three months. Two more days of training, and BOOM it was swear-in day. We had a lovely swear-in ceremony and a big congrats to the folks from our group who spoke; y’all seriously did such a great job. It was a little surreal because the media came out and we were on the news and in the papers the next day; one headline read, “Peace Corps Volunteers Descend Upon Guyana” which I thought made us sound more like a plague of locusts than a ragtag team of teachers and health workers, hahaaaaa. I was really honored to have my host mom and three of the teachers from our practicum school show up to support me, not to mention a bunch of GUY 24ers!!
The next day (July 4th, what a coincidence that it was Independence Day for us and for America??) was pretty bittersweet…mostly bitter. We all had to say goodbye to each other, some of whom we won’t see for quite some time (Region 9ers, I’m talking to you), so that was tough. I may or may not have cried. I was also a little bit homesick because I really love the 4th of July back in the States and kept imagining all the fun everyone back home was having as I schlepped loads of crap into the back of a taxi, got to the Linden bus park at Stabroek Market, got on a big bus and waited 45 minutes for it to leave. That was about the moment when I started thinking, “What the hell am I doing with my life??” and more importantly, “Why?!” Not to worry though, I quickly snapped out of it, stayed awake the whole bus ride, and got curbside service (thank you Mr. Reid, the bus driver) to my new home. Unpacked all of my stuff in about 15 minutes…sat down, and realized I was completely exhausted. And at the same time, exhilarated to finally be at site, and officially a PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER. Whew.