"Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed—doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps—who works in a foreign land—will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace."

-President John F. Kennedy

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sworn-in!

August 16th, 2013:

Writing to you now as an officially sworn-in Peace Corps Volunteer! Yesterday, the US Ambassador to Ghana (who was sworn-in by Hilary Clinton), swore-in 18 others and myself to Peace Corps. Let me tell you…it feels pretty darn good to have gotten to this point.

The last week of training consisted of presentations by us volunteers, a lot of logistical preparation, a two-hour exam, and a lot of drumming and dancing. Our final exam was designed by our Country Director (CD) and consisted of 10 stations which we rotated through over a two hour time span. A few of our trainers were at each station, and the stations consisted of language, cross-culture, technical, security, community development, and others, including a station with our CD (intimidating). It was a unique style and much better than taking a written exam to make sure we learned the things they wanted us to learn during training.

I am now a master of Ghanaian dancing. We had to learn two dances which we performed at our swearing-in ceremony. Pictures, and maybe video, are out there somewhere. It is actually a really fun style of dancing. If I’ve gained nothing else, at least I will now be able to bust out some African moves in a bar in America. Thanks for that Peace Corps.

So the ceremony. It was held in the village we’ve been living in, Addo Nkwanta, on the soccer field. Peace Corps hires a local group to set things up it seemed, so there were a few tents and one very nice tent and table, elevated, with the Ghanaian and American flags hanging. The Ambassador, his police escort, CD Mike, special guest, and training director sat under that tent at the table. Ambassador Cretz, who we met one of our first days in Ghana at his home (mansion), was driven all the way out to our village from Accra, which is about three hours. He rolled up in a black Suburban that probably weighed 10 ton and had bullet-proof windows, along with a police escort SUV. It was pretty cool. And, if you remember from my earlier post, he was a PCV himself back in the day. We new volunteers sat under a tent, our trainers and other volunteers who came for the ceremony sat under a tent, and all of our homestay families sat under a tent. The whole thing lasted about two or three hours, and attracted quite the crowd by the end of it. The ambassador spoke and also led us through the swearing-in words, CD Mike spoke, there were two musical sections where everyone would just get up to dance, each volunteer did a little skit in our local languages, we gave gifts to our homestay families (a big cooler), and we all performed our two dances. My little skit was a short poem in Mampruli which I’ll be able to type up at a later time. For a village setting on a crummy soccer field, the ceremony was beautiful and a lot of fun. Like I said earlier, it feels pretty darn good to have made it through training, adapting, living at such a level after being thrust into an African family and home, and I’m ready to get to my site up north and start the real work!

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