Sunday, May 22, 2011

LPI Is Over…Swearing In Next

We’re back in Oz for the final week of PST (Pre-Service Training). We had our LPIs yesterday morning. The LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) is a 20-30 minute one-on-one conversation with a tester in the host language. It’s something Peace Corps gives us at regular intervals during our two years of service to gauge our progress in the language. It helps them assess their training techniques and is, at least indirectly, a measure of our ability to work effectively. At this stage (PST), we have to score at least at the Novice High level. Since most of us still feel pretty inadequate in our language, there was a lot of pre-LPI anxiety.

But now it’s over, and I learned this afternoon that I scored Intermediate Low. At least I passed, and I'm grateful for that! The rest of our time this week will be spent on administrative details and preparation for moving to our permanent sites. On Wednesday morning, we swear-in as PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers), and that’s when our service officially begins. Up till now, we’ve been mere PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees). The next day, everyone fans out to their permanent sites.

Even though we’re all pretty eager to move on, there’s a bittersweet aspect to this time. CBT (Community Based Training) is an intense experience. We’ve formed close bonds with our CBT mates and our host families. But now we’re leaving our families and separating from our friends. On Thursday, we had a party at my host family’s house to mark the end of CBT. About 60 people came. We volunteers made chocolate chip cookies and fruit kabobs. There was lots of talk and music and dancing. And not a few tears.

For me, this is a little easier. I go back to the same village, where I already have friends and have been welcomed into the community – some people already call me “Bouri,” my host family’s last name. But there’s still the departure of my CBT mates. Maybe it’s time to start thinking of a reunion.

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