After completing our “Staging” in Miami, Florida, 29 Americans from all over the United States including, Minnesota (a ton!), Ohio, Arizona, Oregon, North Carolina, New York, and Texas (The lone Angell Kim represented the Lone Star State 😉 ) we all flew to Colombia.
A bubble of anxiety kept brewing in my stomach. Ugh, I was getting pretty tired of this dreadful feeling. We landed in Colombia and as I was going through customs and immigration, I heard cheering and clapping. A friend jokingly asked, “Is Shakira here?” Haha, unfortunately, she was not, but as soon as I exited the airport, we were all greeted with enthusiasm, signs with our names, and cameras taking our pictures left and right.
I really appreciated the current Peace Corps Volunteers, Leaders, and Staff for greeting us in this way. My ugly anxiety bubble popped and I felt relieved and welcomed. This whole time I felt that I was about to bungee jump and was thinking about whether to jump or withdraw. Well, I jumped.
We went through a four-day retreat with extremely caring and passionate staff members who prioritize our safety, physical and mental health, Spanish progress, and ultimately, our success in our mission in Colombia.
I met my Spanish teacher whom I will be instructed under and will study with three other volunteers in my skill level. I am really happy with our group. Although we are helpful and slightly competitive (guilty) we all have the same goal to learn and make that process exciting.
Tomorrow, we begin our 3-month training and meet our host family. The feeling of nervousness and anticipation you get when you’re about to go on a date with that good-looking person never seems to cease…
I feel like a kid in aims to make new friends, not embarrass myself, and fit in all…from…the…very…beginning!
Things I learned so far:
- Our group is CII-8 which stands for…
C = Colombia
II = Group II. Colombia had a hiatus from 1981-2010. So, group I was comprised of the volunteers who served from 1961-1981. Group II is comprised of the volunteers who served from 2010-present-day.
8 = The 8th group of volunteers who are serving under Group II.
- Abanico = fan
- No dar papaya = Don’t give the papaya. Theft and pick-pocketing can happen in Colombia so this phrase applies to our safety. Basically, don’t be walking around like a rich American showing your riches or (figuratively) your papaya. Don’t show the valuable fruits. Haha.
- Colombians don’t really include a lot of vegetables in their diet…what will I do without my beloved broccoli?!?!?!
- Americans have so much stuff! So much stuff!!! We all suffered from our large luggage from our airport to the hotel, etc. I hope to learn how to pack efficiently and live minimally.
As I travel to my host family’s home tomorrow, I will not have internet access.. I will have to figure out how to buy data on my phone to connect to my laptop, so off I will go into the caveman ages. Hope y’all are eating American french fries on my behalf.