The past two weeks have been filled with sadness, excitement, nervousness, and peace. On September 10th all the volunteers in my batch (approximately 72ish) left our beloved host families and travelled to Manila for our last week of training together. We stayed at a nice resort thatfed us well and had air-conditioning in the rooms. We were happy people. Plus we were having the chance to spend time together before heading off in many different directions – it was lovely. The final training courses covered money, transportation, committees we can join, and more. We also had the chance to go to the mall and do some last minute shopping and eating. Towards the end of our training week all of our supervisors came to meet us and join in the last sessions. Peace Corps did a nice job of creating activites and tasks for each of us to do with our supervisors so we could start to form a foundation relationship before arriving at our new sites – greatly appreciated! This is a picture of me and my beautiful new supervisor, who is absolutely wonderful.
The 17th of September was a big day for all of us – Swearing-In had finally arrived! We all dressed up in our spiffiest outfits we brought/bought and travelled to the U.S. embassy. Swearing-In is a ceremony that all volunteers go through that marks the end of being trainees and the beginning of being volunteers in the U.S. Peace Corps. We have performances and speeches and then we are each introduced and filed unto the stage. Next we all took an oath given by the charge d’affaires (the ambassador was out of town) and then we ended the celebration by eating a plethora of delicious foods.
Bright and early the next day everyone awoke to finish packing and say goodbye to our dear friends before being driven to the airport for our separate flights. There were tears involved – it was a sad time. I caught my flight to Cebu with my supervisor and three fellow volunteers who will be posted at different parts of the island. Upon arrival in the airport, I missed saying goodbye to them because I was in the bathroom for about twenty minutes as a laxative started to kick in that I had taken the night before. Very timely. However, I felt much better afterwards and ready for the drive to my new home.
My new host is absolutely wonderful! My host parents are close to sixty, the mom is a retired nurse and the dad works on another island as an engineer and comes home a couple of times a year. I have three sisters who are 23, 25, and 30. The home has a sewing machine and wifi and the family does not eat a lot of meat. What?! They have been incredibly nice and hospitable and I think I am going to enjoy my stay here a great deal. Over the weekend we went to beautiful waterfalls, they were breathtaking and calming. They are already planning where they want to take me next. I am pretty excited.
I had a nice long weekend, it was peaceful and relaxing. Other than the waterfall excursion, they let me sleep and recoup from weeks of training. It was perfect and just what I needed. On Monday I started work at My Refuge House and I already love it. I will be assisting in four aspects: education, program development, interventions, and community development. The first weeks will be observing and lending support where I can as I become more integrated into the organization. The house is located up the side of a mountain and overlooks the beautiful ocean. No joke. The view is incredible and we can even see the neighboring island in the distance. It is pretty phenomenal. I can’t take pictures so you will just have to use your imagination 🙂