The Kinky Green


It’s All Happening!

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on February 7, 2013

In a few short days, I’ll be making my way to Zambia. More details on that in a moment…

First, I’d like to tell you all how amazingly lucky I feel to have such an awesome support network in my life—from family to friends to colleagues to veritable strangers who have an interest in where I’m going and what I’ll be doing—I have been absolutely astounded in the last few months by the outpouring of love and support I’ve gotten from all of y’all.

I humbly say Thank You. Seriously. It means the world to me. And I also say, please keep it up! I want to stay as connected as possible to the folks back home while I’m away, and I’m sure I will absolutely treasure every single letter, package, email, text, facebook message, and phone call I receive while I’m in Zambia. Not to mention those visits from home I’m already looking forward to!

Now that my departure is imminent, I’ve been getting the same round of questions from pretty much everyone I encounter. So let’s address those, shall we?

My Travel Plans:
Monday, February 11 – I’m taking the train from DC to Philly in the a.m., then I’ll meet up with the other volunteers going to Zambia (there are nearly 50 of us) and have a 1/2 day of orientation.

Tuesday, February 12 – We will all get on a bus and head to NYC for our 15-hour flight out of JFK to Johannesburg, South Africa. From there, we’ll have a 2-hour flight to Lusaka, Zambia.

At some point in the first couple of days there, I will have a chance to contact friends and family to let them know I’ve arrived safely. If you’re on my list, I hope to get an email out to you.

My Service Time:
For the first three months, we’ll be in training near Lusaka. Our days will consist of language training in the morning, technical training in the afternoons. We will do site visits to see how and where current volunteers are living. We will be living with local host families. We have been informed that our access to the internet during this time will be very restricted.

In May, we’ll be sworn in as official Peace Corps volunteers(!) and will move to our respective villages, where we’ll stay for the next two years.

Staying in Touch:
The good news is I’ll be getting a cell phone within the first week. I’ve decided to take my smart phone with me at the advice of current volunteers. Depending on the 3G service in my village/hut, I may be able to stay more connected than I previously thought.

Even still, snail mail (and I do mean snaaaaaaaail mail) is like Peace Corps gold. You can write me and/or send me happies at this address for the first 3 months:

Joy Douglas/PCT Peace Corps
P.O. Box 50707
Lusaka, Zambia
IMPORTANT: Mark AIR MAIL

When I get my permanent posting address, you can be sure I will let you know immediately!

Please note that the Zambian postal system is not what we’re accustomed to here, to say the least. Letters can take 2-6 weeks and arrive out of order or be lost entirely. (It is suggested you number them so I will know if anything is missing.) Packages can take 1-6 months to arrive. Patience, grasshoppers! I have a feeling I’m going to get very accustomed to waiting. (And waiting, and waiting.)

Lastly, if you want to be included on email updates, just let me know.

My Health, Safety, & Security:
We’ve been examined by every doctor we’ve ever had (or so it seemed), cleared, vaccinated, etc. and so on. They’re going to hook us up with another round of vaccinations, handy meds and mosquito nets to keep the malaria at bay, vitamins, a first aid kit, etc. and so on when we get into the country. If I get sick, PC medical staff will take care of me. If they can’t fix me, they’ll try trusted local docs. If they can’t fix me, they’ll medevac me out of the country, all the way back to the US if necessary.

Peace Corps has had us reading up and testing us about our safety and security. We’ll also be going through more security briefing in orientation at our staging event and as soon as we get to Zambia. My overall impression is they don’t want their volunteers to die or otherwise suffer undue harm. So that’s pretty cool by me. 🙂

That said, I understand there are risks inherent in all foreign travels, exacerbated by the perception that we’re wealthy Americans, and further complicated by the fact that I’m female, to be sure. But I promise, promise, promise (Girl Scout’s Honor) to be as safe and careful as I possibly can, to avoid anything possible that would put me in danger, and to not take any unwarranted risks.

My Emotions: 
By now I expected to be nervous and scared and all kinds of stressed out. The truth is, I’m not. I’m excited and happy and more confident in my decision to join the Peace Corps and accept this assignment than I have been about pretty much anything else I’ve ever done in my life.

Of course, I could be wrong. I could hate Africa and agriculture and not having ready access to cheese and ice cream. And if it turns out that it’s not a good fit for me after all, just know that I can part ways with the Peace Corps and come on back home any time I want. (But, yanno, that’s the last thing I want!)

Whew! That’s a long one. I’m not one for short musings, anyway, so that’s not surprising, is it?

Thanks for sticking out… it’s gonna be a wild ride!

xxoo

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