If you’re reading this, perhaps you already know that Adam and I will be serving with the Peace Corps in Zambia.
Time is winding down since we first applied to serve in the Peace Corps last April (check out our timeline). This time next week, Adam and I will be in Zambia! On Monday, prospective volunteers will congregate in Philadelphia for staging, kind of an orientation for everyone to meet before flying out. I happen to be 15 minutes from Philadelphia right now (this place has gone Eagles nuts), so Adam will come here for a few days to spend time with my family, meet my siblings & nephews, and eat Jersey bagels. We’ve been long distance since parting ways in Korea back in September — him to San Diego and me to Tokyo — so I’m looking forward to reuniting!
It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m going to Africa. I’ve grown accustomed to moving around, I’ve packed up my life’s belongings dozens of times. But Zambia will be different, I think. My luggage content is totally different for Zambia than the other time I’ve moved abroad. It looks like I’m packing to survive in the wilderness: sleeping bag, solar charger, LifeStraw, rechargeable headlamp (thank you Adam), highly fashionable zip-off hiking pants, multi-tool… I never owned most of these things before. I’ll try to post a packing list before I go.
If anybody cares (hi, Mom), here’s a breakdown of what’s going to happen in the next few weeks:
February 12, 2018: Staging in Philadelphia. We’ll get to meet all of the bright faces in our cohort, our future family. I’m not sure how many people, but I’m thinking between 60 and 80. Everyone will be coming from different backgrounds and experiences, so I look forward to connecting with everyone and going through this exciting time together. I imagine it might feel similar to EPIK orientation in Korea where everyone is oddly outgoing as we get to know each other. Volunteers will be split into two projects, both of which are in the agriculture sector: RAP (Rural Aquaculture Promotion) and LIFE (Linking Income, Food, and Environment).
February 13, 2018: At 1:00am, we board a bus to JFK. From there, we jet off to Zambia with a brief stop in Johannesburg.
February 14, 2018: What a better way to celebrate a gimmicky love holiday than to arrive in our future host country! We’ll spend the first few days getting situated in Lusaka, the capital. This orientation will be a chance to meet our project directors, country director, medical officers, and all of the important people. Additionally, we’ll complete administrative tasks such as getting us set up with bicycles and vaccinations.
February 18 (?), 2018: LIFErs and RAPpers go their separate ways for pre-service training (PST). Our (RAP) training is in Chongwe, about 50km east of the capital. For three months, we will live with a homestay family to get acquainted with the customs, food, and general tasks of daily life. Back to the bucket showers and squat toilets!
Every day, we will bicycle to the training site for jam-packed days of lessons and hands-on activities. We will be trained in three main areas: language, technical training, and cross cultural training. While English is the official language in Zambia, we will be required to learn one of six local languages, yet to be determined. Whichever language we are assigned will give us a clue as to what province we will be placed. Besides learning technical skills related to agriculture and aquaculture, we’ll learn about malaria, HIV/AIDS, gender, safety, and health.
May 3, 2018: If all goes well, we will be sworn in to officially earn the title of Peace Corps volunteers!
We will then disperse throughout the country to our assigned villages where we will meet our host family and get acquainted with the village. The first three months will be more of a cultural adjustment and integration period; part of our job is to immerse ourselves into community to build trust and understanding. I’m looking forward to this part the most.
That’s where we stand now. Hope to update here when I can!