Hello wonderful people!
It is 6:51 PM on Tuesday June 29 and I am sitting in the hotel room in Washington, D.C. We just finished our staging/orientation for Peace Corps China and I have a little time before dinner (and thanks to the Holiday Inn at Georgetown I am using free wi-fi to blog!).
This morning was an emotional time. I think I got about 4.5 hours of sleep last night (due to trying to get everything together and the excitement/nervousness of the next day). BUT today I am so wired and excited about all that is happening that I really am not tired at all. I am certain to crash once I am on the 14 hour 1 minute (thought you might get a kick out of the one minute. lol) flight tomorrow. Who needs sleep anyway? Sleep is for the weak. Only joking. It was also difficult to look back at my room that I will be leaving for the next couple of years, to hug Cash (the dog) one last time (his face when I was leaving about broke my heart), and later to see my parents standing in the same spot I hugged them before boarding the plane. I was sad to say goodbye, but happy to take this next step in my life. And oh, was it a step!
When I got to Charlotte I sped-walked across the airport to Gate C12 (I need not have done that, as I had about an hour before my next flight. But, hey, I'm still new when it comes to air travel and the last time I flew I put all my trust in Annemarie to get us to our destination on time. Which she did.). Anyways...the flight was delayed 15-20 minutes because a flight attendant was late. Really? Personally I think we should have left her. Again, only joking. Come on, I'm not that mean. But no need to worry because we arrived in D.C in record time.
Next, I got my luggage and went to find out if there was a hotel shuttle bus. "Not at this airport," said the transportation lady. So... I got a taxi. My first ever taxi. It was thrilling. The taxi driver was nice, too. I meant to ask him where he was from, but I never did. Anyways...I told him I had never been to D.C before, and so he pointed out a couple of things when we drove by them (including the house of the vice president). We also passed all of the embassies. That's about all I have seen of D.C today.
But the day kept getting better. The excitement from my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers just radiated off the walls. You could feel it, and we all fed off of one another. I don't remember ever being so excited in my entire life.
Staging consisted of going over logistical items (getting on the plane tomorrow and arriving in China), safety concerns, discussing anxieties and aspirations, and basically just mentally preparing us for the road ahead. It was also a great way for us all to get to know one another and begin developing relationships that will last us, not only the next couple of years, but most likely the rest of our lives.
Oh and here is an exciting side note. The woman leading our group (group A-K last names) is a returned Peace Corps volunteer from...Zambia!!! I know. I said "mulishani" to her (which is Hello in Bemba, the main dialect in Zambia) and she was surprised, but immediately responded with a greeting.
Afterward we got our group assignments for tomorrow (thankfully I am not a group leader-that would be David). There are about 8 people or so per group. The purpose of the group is kind of a buddy system. Oh and I forgot to mention that there are a total of 89 volunteers going tomorrow to China. I've only met about half (A-K remember. We were split alphabetically by last name). I hope I get to meet the L-Z's at some point. Anyways, then we got our room keys/roommates. Mine is a middle-aged woman by the name of Elizabeth. She seems very nice. She wasn't at my table during orientation, so I haven't gotten to know her and right now she is working on her computer, too--so not a real chatty sort of time. But she's been wanting to become a volunteer for a while like me.
Okay, what else? I am going to dinner at 8 at a local restaurant in D.C with my fellow PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers-I will use the abbreviation from this point on btw) and some RPCVs (can you guess what that is?). They are going to answer any questions we might have and just have fun, relax, and get to know each other even more.
That is all for now. I do not know when the next time I will be able to blog since I do not know about internet access once I am in China. But keep checking and commenting-letting me know how you all are doing.