After saying goodbye to Bonnie, we headed into the airport for our flight to Philadelphia.
We met our first fellow trainee (Alex) before getting on the plane. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Jordan for two and a half months, before being evacuated almost three months ago.
Turns out there was another fellow trainee on our flight but we didn’t realize it until we were waiting for our bags in Philly. It was fun to start meeting people in our training group. We have been told that our group would be around 70 people, so we have quite a few more to meet!
After registering with Peace Corps staff at the hotel, we headed out for dinner with a group of people from our training group. It seems that there is always a heightened sense of excitement and bonding in these situations. Everyone is out of their element and about to embark on a big life change. Everyone is excited to make new friends, as these new people will be our social network for the next two years.
We had two full days of training, where we went over the basics of Peace Corps service, such as the Peace Corps Goals, the Core Expectations of all volunteers serving, and safety/security issues. Our training group was also part of a piloting of a new Peace Corps initiative in conjunction with the First Lady, Michelle Obama. The program is called Let Girls Learn, and Moldova was chosen as one of the first thirteen countries in which the program would be launched. Our training for this program involved presentations and discussions on gender, cultural biases, and collective vs individualistic societies. There are several programs already in place in Moldova which work well under the Let Girls Learn umbrella, but the hope is that volunteers try to include the goals of the program in the projects they work on in country.
The training days were pretty exhausting. Certainly not physically exhausting, as it was a lot of sitting, but it was mentally exhausting, as we had a lot of information presented for us to process. Each evening, we went out to dinner with other trainees, and usually tried to get back to our hotel room at a reasonable hour, so we could hopefully get enough sleep to feel refreshed for the next day of training.
At the end of our staging, we were all given t-shirts and we took a group photo. Our group still feels quite big, and there are still folks we haven’t met yet. Our training was lucky to have a member of the Peace Corps Moldova office with us Philly. She even brought chocolates for us all at the end of staging, which was very sweet.
This morning, we all piled our luggage and ourselves onto two buses and headed for New York to catch our flight to Moldova (via Munich). We arrived with plenty of time to kill, as our flight doesn’t leave until the evening. We’re excited to finally arrive in Moldova and get started on our eight week (for Brian) or ten week (for Allison) training. We’re excited to meet our host-families and to start learning Romanian in earnest.