March 1 was the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps, commemorated widely in the broadcast news and press, with the inevitable (and still inspiring to me) clip of Kennedy saying in his inaugural address, “Ask not what America can do for you…”
I began this journey 14 months ago. Next Monday, I board a plane for “staging,” but I’m already feeling as if I have one foot in, even while the other is still firmly planted outside.
- Last week I was invited to recruiting meeting in Muskegon much like the one I went to nearly four years ago that kindled my interest in serving. How different it was for me this time. My status as invitee, with an imminent departure, was a point of interest for many people – why did I apply, what was involved, etc., so even though I haven’t yet served, I have Peace Corps experience that was interesting and perhaps valuable to those considering the step.
- Last Saturday I was invited to a Potluck organized by the Grand Rapids chapter of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. There were about 40 people present. Most brought excellent dishes from the countries they had served in. I made an apple pie – so American – but that's my experience so far. There was another pre-service volunteer, a young woman about to graduate from Grand Valley State University, my alma mater, and several recently returned volunteers. It was great to be welcomed in even before I’ve begun!
- For the past four months, I’ve been part of a Facebook Group for those of us in this Moroccan group. I must say it has been a wonderful experience getting to know each other a little in advance, sharing concerns, questions, advice. And getting a head start on the bonding!
- And yesterday I found a “bridge” document to PST (Pre-Service Training) in my email. It was a detailed overview of what to expect for the next ten days or so. Boy was it full of surprises! For one, we won’t be going to Rabat (the capital) as I had expected. Instead we’re headed to a more remote place. Think of the initial gladiatorial scene in Gladiator. I’ll send you pictures when I get there. I'm reminded nearly every day that Peace Corps asks us to be flexible.
So, one foot already in…and I’m about to lift the other.