December 9, 2008
So today we are officially volunteers. We are officially attached at the hip to Malawi and the state department on the United States. The 22 of us got dressed up all pretty-like and got to the American Ambassador’s house with a hoard of distinguished guests from the embassy, the state department, and the ministry of education in Malawi. A good chunk of the girls in my group dressed up in traditional garb with chitenje dresses. I borrowed a dress from my friend and trainer Agatha…just you wait for those pictures. Pretty spectacular. Reminds me of my high school and first year days. The swearing in ceremony lasted about an hour or so with special speakers from the Country Director, Training director, the American Ambassador, our APCD of Education Dora, and three speakers from our group. My speech was divided in two for the Chichewa (central and South main language) and Chitimbuka (Northern) speakers, Darline and Terence respectively. They kicked some major language ass. I got to read my speech in English (written with Natalie a long while ago…it is our baby) to all these people and it was a good moment in my Peace Corps experience. To see the 21 people that I’ve become attached to and gotten to know in ways that maybe not the average American would know and to be a part of the ceremony that put us on the path to becoming part of the Peace Corps history was pretty awesome.
I leave for my site tomorrow at 7:30 in the morning. I will be the first person to site of all of us seeing as my site is so close to the city. By 9:30 I will be left in my house with all of my bags to unpack (thank god…two months out of those suitcases was not fun…and it’ll be like Christmas finding things that I packed months ago that I totally forgot about), with all of my Peace Corps materials to read, my new neighbours knocking my on door (hopefully with food), and this whole two year experience about to start. I guess it’s a pivotal moment in what is about to be the rest of my life and I am sitting in the transit house in Lilongwe scared s***less. We all did our shopping for site (buckets o’ plenty) and we’re about to leave for the director’s house for dinner. Then back to the transit house for a party that will maybe outshine the parties we’ve been having. Maybe. Those pictures, I’m sure, will also be up on Facebook because of our PCVL (Peace Corps Volunteer Leader), Stephanie. She tends to take the most unwanted pictures of us and puts them up for all to see. We are all so thankful for her though. She’s been a great resource and friend the past couple of months. We’re all sad that she’s leaving in Jan to start her life in America again. We pretty much want to kidnap her right now.
For Christmas, a group of us, mostly Central and Southerners, are planning on going to a beach side camp ground to just relax after our long and hard first two weeks at site. I’m going to try to get up to Mzuzu for New Years to celebrate it with the Northern EDU group and Stephanie. The only real problem with all these plans are the transport issues. It takes 6 hours to get to Mzuzu by bus or hitch and that is a long ride in a truck bed. We’ll see.
I’ve been getting mail and mixed cds and packages that are keeping me sane. I have these bouts of compete and utter astonishment that I’ve gotten this far. I don’t know what’s going to be different when I’m at site besides everything. Besides leaving for college, this is the first time I feel like I’m taking a step into the rest of my life. This step will define the rest of my life and that is hella scary.