Yesterday, the members of Omnibus 105 (the 105th group to Ecuador) were inundated with emails from Peace Corps about staging information. Just when you think Restless Applicant Syndrome is over, you're still checking your email first thing in the morning to see if Peace Corps emailed you about staging.
The first email was the staging invite that had attachments about baggage limits (initially 80 pounds total for warm weather), registration, reporting instructions, and safety and security. I called right away to arrange travel to Washington D.C., our staging city (the same day, Paraguay invitees go to Miami). Registration is at noon on 2 February, so the agent wanted to get me there as early as possible. He somehow talked me into a 6:05 a.m. flight out of O'Hare. That means I need to leave my home at about 3:30 a.m. - guess I won't be sleeping that night! I arrive at 8:44 a.m. and plan on staying in the airport to meet the rest of known trainees.
The third email was a list of things to do with attachments about the program in Ecuador, which included a better description of how training will go. We'll be training in Tumbaco, a town about an hour's ride east of Quito. Granted all goes well, we'll be sworn in as official volunteers on 20 April 2011 at the Ambassador's Residence and also celebrate the 50th year of Peace Corps!
Finally, the fourth email (see, rapid fire!) corrected the baggage limitations. Instead of the warm weather restriction of 80 pounds max, they erred on the side of caution by upping the weight limit to the cold weather restriction of 100 pounds because some volunteers work in the sierras (and Tumbaco is a valley in the mountains).
So I'm still swamping through all this information. I didn't even realize our group number was Omnibus 105 until my fellow trainees began posting that in our Facebook group.
Interviewed by the Northwest Herald!
I offered the Northwest Herald (also here at the Cary Blog) a story on my Peace Corps experience and was almost immediately contacted by a reporter. My main motivation with this was to 1) fulfill the third mission of the Peace Corps, which is "To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans,' and 2) to gain local followers who might be interested in donating to any of my projects in the future that I may help develop. Even though the Peace Corps pays for a lot, they can't cover supply costs and other expenses that might come up . This is certainly down the road, but I think it's good to look ahead. All donations will be handled through Peace Corps when/if that time comes, so I can't accept anything.
So this morning, I began cleaning practically the second I woke up. I spent most of the morning in my pajamas, doing a massive load of dishes by hand, sweeping and hand-mopping floors, vacuuming, dusting, EVERYTHING. And even though it was a ton of work to do by myself, it feels so great sitting here in a clean living room with no clutter, anywhere. I finished just in time to whip a pan of chana masala to feed LJ, mom, and myself.
The reporter, Katie, arrived right on time and we jumped right into the story. I really enjoyed talking with her and loved the questions she asked, so I'm looking forward to seeing the story! Hopefully I'll get some Northwest Chicago-area followers soon, so welcome to anyone checking my blog out.
I was lucky enough to snoop in on my parents' interview. I wasn't paying 100% attention, but did notice my dad was talking more to me than to the reporter. They said some pretty embarrassing things about when I was a kid, so maybe you'll all get lucky and read about that soon. Why, why must they show pictures of me? Why?
I think I got my finances mostly straightened out. Who knew it would take so much effort to just up and leave your life in the United States? I talked with a financial officer to ask how I can use my future readjustment fund to make payments on my private student loan while I'm away. She told me to forward the information to her, but she said to use the generic Peace Corps email address. I was really reluctant, and would have rather sent her a direct email. I still haven't heard anything back. I want to go to staging and sign that 'no commitments' paper! I want to be sure this is totally taken care of. What a pain...