Staging and the Start of Training

I’m in Colombia!

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With all these awesome people. CII-6 and staff members came to meet us at the airport. They cheered as we came out the door. What an amazing way to enter the country!IMG_2864

But I get ahead of myself. Finally packed, I headed to the airport and managed to get myself through security and to Miami. I met up with some other trainees and we got a shuttle to the hotel. After checking in and quickly eating staging began! This was the first time all 29 CII-8 Peace Corps trainees were together. Staging is all about introductions. To each other and to Peace Corps. What a great group. There was paperwork and even a pre/post survey with a fun finish screen. However, our trainer Steve told me I had to get through Pre-Service Training first…bummer.

After staging we went to dinner and prepped for the next morning. We had to be out of the rooms at 6am for our 11am flight. Turns out checking in 29 people for an international flight takes some time. They even gave us our own line! This is what a line of PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees) look like:

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We all eventually made it to the gate with a couple of hours to eat and talk to family and friends while still in the U.S. And then we were off!

Circle back up to the original picture. We got a large bus with really intense air conditioning which brought us to the hotel. Since then we’ve had a few days of meetings, talking about Colombia, Peace Corps history, safety and security, medical, and more. It has been great getting time with the whole group and the CII-6 members who have hung out and shared their own stories, tips, and advice.

Tomorrow we head to our host family sites. Our group is splitting into small language groups and we will be training together in pueblos, then meeting with the large group two days a week. Access to internet is not ensured in the pueblos but I’ll try to be in touch at least a little during PST.

Hasta pronto amigos!

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The Packing Post

Was I concerned about packing? Fitting enough stuff for 27 months in a few bags? Considering a daily commute to work (school and the gym I should add!) looks like this…

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Yes.

The big thing I’ve been told is you’ll be surprised by how little you’ll need. I’m looking forward to posting about that in the somewhat near future! But for now, I will be honing my Tetris skills and hoping I can get stuff out of my bags, and more importantly back in, within a short time frame (travel cubes, compression bags, and mesh bags – very helpful!)IMG_2847

I’ve had a packing list for weeks, months perhaps. It turns out it is very different writing it down and seeing it sprawled out all over a room. Luckily, my mom and Kareena are excellent helpers and have great Tetris skills. I was determined to fit everything in a rolling duffel, hiking backpack, duffel bag, and a purse. Some things made the cut list, hopefully nothing I wish I had on the short list in a few weeks. As long as I have my passport and visa right? Wait, Peace Corps has those for now! The rest is with me.

It has been a full week, jam packed with organizing, packing, visiting family and friends, taking an MTEL, and a whole lot of running around. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life and saying goodbye for now was difficult.Thanks to everyone for the well wishes, big hugs, and check in’s! I am very privileged to be able to take this opportunity, I am thankful for the chance to do so, and I am taking all that love and excitement with me.

Special shout out to my spectacular parents, who have supported me even though they aren’t excited at the prospect of me being away for 27 months. Also for helping set combinations on locks so I don’t break anymore and checking in at scheduled times in the packing process so I didn’t go too deep into a rabbit hole.

I’m sitting on a plane to Miami, hitting lots of turbulence. Staging starts at 2pm. I can’t wait to meet the other CII-8 trainees and the Peace Corps staff.

Here we go!