Updated: Apr 1
Blog Entry #2
I'd just finished college and moved back home during the summer of 2000. I was hanging around the house before heading off to my summer job at a local sports bar and grill when I heard a diesel engine pull up the driveway. I'd been waiting for almost eight months in states of fear, excitement, and disbelief for this package to arrive. Moments after the engine halted, the doorbell rang. Nervously, I ran to the door and saw the delivery man jump in his truck. Thank you, I yelled as I knelt to pick up the package. Holding it tightly, as if it would run away from me, I walked into the kitchen.
At the start of my senior year, I applied for an education volunteer position in the Peace Corps. A recruiter told me that applying at this time would be best for a summer start. Placing it on the counter, I stared at it for ten minutes before ripping it open to find this letter and my placement folder.
Peace Corps Headquarters determined our placement by considering three factors: health, major, and availability. I had a clean bill of health, majored in elementary education, and was available beginning the summer of 2000. My qualifications matched me with three regions of service, Sub Saharan Africa, Central Europe, and the Pacific Islands. Reading "Pacific Island Nation" on my folder, my mind immediately flashed back to my interview.
Dressed in my one and only suit, I was fifteen minutes early for the appointment. The secretary smiled and led me to a small room where I waited for Jeff, the Peace Corps recruiter. The room was cold. I was uncomfortable, nervous and hungry. After thirty minutes of questioning, he asked if there were anything I would like to add. Yes, I said. I'd like to add that I'm allergic to fish, hate hot weather, and am severely prone to motion sickness... especially on boats.
WELCOME TO THE TRAINING CLASS OF K-27! Next stop, the Equatorial Pacific!
Despite being assigned to the worst place imaginable for me, the way I felt was unlike anything I'd felt before. The invitation validated me as a person! I had a job! I was joining the Peace Corps!
The first paper in the placement folder was a black and white map of the Pacific Ocean. In the empty box were clusters of dots grouped into three distinct areas. Printed above the groups, YOUR ASSIGNMENT.
The remaining papers described a small country with less than 90,000 people and a large youth population. A former British colony, the country's education system used English as its primary language of instruction. The year-round temperatures were hot and hotter. The main source of food was fish, and the main mode of transportation was by boat. The other half of the folder was filled with travel documents to San Francisco, California for our final staging where all documents would be finalized, we would receive our final stateside immunizations, and take our first steps towards the next two years of our lives.