Swear in was over two weeks ago… and it’s taken me about that long to collect my thoughts. I’ve been at my site since then, working on making my house a home and finding my way about my new community. As exhausting as PST’s strict schedule could be, the unstructured days I have now can be just as exhausting… but I make it a point to do one thing that scares me every day. Whether that be having a buna ceremony at someone’s house to going to the market with my new 8th grade best friend, I push every day.
Since arriving in Ethiopia, I wanted to write at least one meaningful post a week. But over the past three months, that was fairly difficult for me to keep up with the strict PST schedule that had us booked all day, every day.
While researching the Peace Corps and reading current volunteers’ blogs, one thing I never managed to catch was the fact that despite the ten weeks of PST being a seemingly short time over the course of one’s service, it’s actually pretty difficult. I’m sure people told me, but when everything is still “sunshine and rainbows” in your mind, it’s hard to imagine that a mere ten weeks will be difficult. Future trainees take note: It will be difficult. But on the flipside, PST was really amazing… having been on my own for the better part of two weeks now, I’m immensely grateful for my host family who took me in and showed me the ropes of living in Ethiopia, for the LCFs who taught us language and culture and for being around other fareng every day.
Upon arrival in Addis, we played “Jeopardy” over the PCV Handbook we’d been given the previous Saturday. The trainees were split into the four areas that volunteers are placed: Amhara, Tigray, Jima and Bale. It was a tense showdown, but in the end, Team Amhara rocked it and won a box of candy (plus bragging rights).
The following day was the (in)famous “Addis Day,” where we were finally released into Addis Ababa to learn our way around and taking line taxis to various destinations. It’s also a time to do any shopping we may have wanted before heading to site, but since I fly through Bahir Dar—another large city—to get to my site, I picked up an electric water kettle and not much else. We also got to visit the Peace Corps office for the first time, which was pretty exciting to get to go inside.
Swear in took place two weeks ago, on a sunny Friday afternoon in mid-December at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. Three trainees gave speeches in one of the languages the 52 of us learned—Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrinia—before the ambassador gave us the oath that changed us from trainees into Peace Corps volunteers.
There is something incredible about joining the thousands of men and women who have taken the same oath over the past 51 years. That moment made our commitment seem so much bigger than just ourselves… this long, rich history of volunteers all over the world, working and living with the people we strive to serve.