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  • Writer's pictureMichael Roman

Host Volunteer Visit

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

The first week of Pre-service training (PST) concluded with Host Volunteer Visit (HVV) assignments. An official PCT (Peace Corps Trainee) during my second week of PST, I was assigned to Abaiang Island under the direction of our CD (Country Director). Following HVV, I would spend three months in Maiana Island, two islands south of Abaiang, for a three-month HFV (Host Family Visit).

Peace Corps service involves memorizing complicated acronyms and an entirely new language.

The following morning, I boarded a small double hauled canoe named the B’a ni karawa (comet) with nine other PCTs. The sight of the comet rocking back and forth sent my hands into a fit of rage and a frantic archaeological dig through my bag for a tiny bottle of Dramamine. I drank the remaining pills, and within minutes fell asleep on boat’s deck.

According to PCVs who stayed awake, the boat ride was amazing! Magnificent sea life darted between, under, and through the hulls. Bottle-nosed dolphins played with the boat, jumping in and out of the water, racing alongside the boat through the open sea.

I woke as the boat turned off its motor, and slowly waded across Abaiang’s clear blue lagoon. Manta rays glided effortlessly through the coral below our feet as clownfish and tiny crabs skirted in and out of their hiding spots. The underwater paradise, filled with brightly colored coral, fish, lobsters, and other sea life welcomed us to Abaiang.

A crowd of people lined the shore. Jess, our HVV PCV was not hard to spot. Her bright pink-sunburned skin and curly brown hair stood out amongst the shorter dark-skinned people waiting with her. Small silver skiffs approach the Comet, bringing cargo and passengers ashore. When it was our turn, all PCTs and staff filled one skiff and headed as far as we could before getting out to wade the rest of the way. With backpacks and Nalgene bottles clanking in unison with the sounds of carabineer clicks and lagoon splashes, we waded a good hundred meters before setting foot on the island.

Once ashore, we jumped into a flatbed truck with other I-Kiribati. “This flatbed has problems, so hold on to the side,” Jess yelled. “It sometimes detaches from the cab.” Red Bullets, boat travel, and now this, I thought to myself.

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