(July 15th, 2017 @ 5:30AM) As I woke up bright and early for my flight from Richmond, VA to San Francisco, CA I felt energized, excited and not the slightest bit of apprehension. There was no anxiety driven nausea, no foggy thoughts, no last minute “what the f*** am I thinking?” moments. Now, I understand that I am only 23 years old and not that many big things have happened in my life so far but this was the first time that I had 100% confidence in a big life decision. I’m moving to a different hemisphere, 12 time zones away and for goodness sakes I am not worried at all? Some may think there is something wrong with that but can I just tell you…I have never felt more empowered. What I am doing is very privileged and I think that needs to be said. Not everyone does Peace Corps and not everyone has the ability to. You are picked from a large pot of people and that in itself is privilege.
(July 15th, 2017 @ 7:00AM) My parents drove me from our cookie cutter neighborhood to the Richmond airport and I didn’t shed a tear. I was oozing with excitement and trying to remain calm out of respect for my parents’ undeniable angst. Dad had a calm demeanor as always and momma shockingly was keeping it together. When we pulled up to departures I requested a family selfie (minus Chelsea, my lovely sister on the West Coast). Mom kept the tears at bay until the photo was snapped and then the muffled sniffles began. I got myself a big papa bear hug and kisses and then momma’s clutching embrace. No one wants to let their child go to the other side of the world. I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle when momma’s arms swallowed me up for the second time because inside I was beaming. Leading up to this day I truly thought I was going to cry once I got past security and just aimlessly sit at my gate. NOPE that didn’t happen and boy am I proud of myself for that! That was the reassurance I needed to know that I am doing what I truly want to do and not just trying to check off some bucket list item.
(July 15th, 2017 @ 11:00AM) Typically, each group of Peace Corps volunteers have something called staging. That is basically when you all meet for the first time prior to your flight to your host country (Cambodia for us). This normally happens at a hotel but if you refer back to my last post you will understand that we had some visa issues and we are having our “staging” in the San Francisco airport prior to boarding our long haul flight to Asia. (R.I.P to having an extra night sleep in between long flights). I am about to meet a huge group of people who I don’t know but that doesn’t matter because we are all about to share two years worth of incredible memories. So you know what I did? I did what I like to think others would do and bought games to bring so I can make friends. This is kindergarten, freshman year of college, and orientation of graduate school all over again. Would you want to be friends with the girl who brings UNO, Catch Phrase, and Bananagrams? I would. Fingers crossed they like me…I’ll report back in 6 hours when I land in San Francisco, CA.
(6 hours later)
Y’all I made friends. Put 74 people in the San Francisco International Airport and that is bound to happen. Conversations were easy and friendships were made. I guess when you spend five zillion hours together on a round the world trip you have a lot of time to talk and let your personality shine. So based on first impressions: I love my group and I am excited for what is to come simply based on that. Good people means a good experience in my book.
Let’s fast forward through the 16 hour flight from San Francisco, CA to Singapore because I really don’t want to relive that leg cramping, sleep depriving, questionable food option flight. We landed in Singapore, went through customs, got that extra stamp in our shiny new passports and I looked around and we all looked dead. I thought to myself ‘how on earth are we going to be productive at training when we get to Cambodia’. To save you from a really long winded story about our incredibly long check in process in Singapore..let me just say, those poor ticket agents had to deal with 74 of us at once and that was probably stressful so I am grateful to them.
Now we are in our terminal of the Singapore airport. We have all heard how beautiful the airport is supposed to be and all the nature exhibits that await us. But first thing is first we have to put on our collared shirt and shoes with a back strap. I felt like I was in my pajamas so I was comfortable. My new friend and I stuck together in the airport and made a break for the food area. We came up to this wall of authentic foods with 9 different stakes and probably 50-60 different dishes. We both went for the safe mini wok vegetarian fried rice. It was delicious but we were cranky and dehydrated so we moved on to getting water and scooping out the orchid garden. After a little meditation in that garden we found ourselves the sunflower garden where we snapped pictures and loved every bit of the nature we were getting to soak up after being stuck in airports and tin tubes in the sky.
(July 17th, 2017 @ 1:30PM) WE LANDED IN CAMBODIA! We are finally home. It is cool I can say that now. Cambodia is home. We were greeted with Peace Corps signs and lots of Peace Corps staff and a few cameras outside of the airport which we are pretty positive were there because of our arrival. After getting 74 people organized we were put in buses, given snacks and drove through the capital, Phnom Penh, to our training site. As we were told by Peace Corps staff we can’t disclose our locations for safety purposes. So as much as you will hear from Keisha the districts I am in but nothing more specific than that. I don’t even know where I am now so you know just as much as me. At this point we were introduced to a lot of people and handed a lot of things that I am trying not to lose. We went straight into language training and I have a wonderful group of five other volunteers and our Language and Cross-Cultural Facilitator (LCF) that I will be with for the next 9 weeks. We learned how to say:
My name is ____
What is our name_____?
From the Eastern Hemisphere,