This will be my last post from the US and it might take a while to get internet connectivity in Macedonia, so here a few final experiences I’ll share on this crazy journey.
Mom and Dad were great in helping me get to t he airport yesterday morning. My sister Debbie met us part-way and actually drove and I think that helped a lot. They held it together and nobody cried or asked me not to go at the last minute. Dad helped with luggage tags and got back in the car without breaking down–I was really proud of him. Of course none of us had slept much the night before and I think we were all pretty much functioning on autopilot.
Arrival at Philadelphia meant meeting up with 3 other PC Volunteers and sharing a shuttle to the hotel. We arrived at noon and were supposed to be at registration at 12:30. The paperwork actually went pretty quickly and we started getting to know each other while standing in line, witnessing each other’s paperwork and grabbing food. My departure group consists of 38 people and to my delight, 11 of us are over 50. We come from all over the US, including one person from Hawaii. There are at least 2 people I’ve met so far with dual citizenship.
The afternoon was spent getting to know each other, examining our commitment to serve for 27 months, reviewing anxieties and aspirations, potential issues we will encounter, and Peace Corps expectations and policies. Amy was an excellent facilitator and kept us moving through the exercises with lots of energy and enthusiasm.
Two things impressed me the most. The first is that I am now a member of a proud tradition involving almost 200,000 PC Volunteers over the past 49 years. (It will be so cool to actually be in service during the 50th anniversary year!) The second is that these are the people with whom I’ll be living and serving for the next 2 years–like minded people who ‘get’ why I’m doing this. People I’ll share the struggles and joys with, people I’ll get to know and love and who will undoubtedly change my life.
One example is my roommate this past night. (Ah yes, the days of corporate privilege are over, and we’re sharing rooms on your tax dollars!) She’s a lovely African-American woman in her early twenties. We spent time discussing how differently she will be treated because of her skin color and it made me realize that I had been a bit nervous about rooming with her because I thought she might be disappointed about getting an ‘old person’ as a roommate. She ended up helping me pre-pay for a SKYPE phone number before I leave the country and I gave her one of my rings that she can wear to indicate she’s ‘married’ if she feels the need in certain situations. Bottom line is that I’m constantly amazed as things turn out exactly as they should over and over again.
We finally turned out the lights around 1 am and I’m awake at 5…hate getting old! There won’t be much sleep on the flight tonight either because I’m too excited for this great adventure. We’re told the Macedonian PC staff, some current Volunteers and perhaps some other local dignitaries will be waiting in Skopje to meet us, that they’re SO excited we’re coming, and will take lots of pictures. It feels a little strange to be greeted like a rock star and taken care of when I’m used to looking out for myself, but I have to remember that I’m now a member of this PC family. It actually feels pretty good!
Love to all…..