(No, not dating in the Peace Corps. That might be a post one day, but it will not be today.)
My cohort, 27 trainees total, touched down in Barranquilla today. As soon as we set foot outside of customs, we were greeted by screams.
The good kind of screams. The “Whoooo!!! Bienvenidos a Colombia!” kind of screams.
Our country director, program director and a veritable boatload of current volunteers and staff were there to greet us.
Once we made it to our hotel, we settled in to the first of many, many in-country training sessions, where our program director explained that we were all now in an official dating relationship with the Peace Corps.
It’s a time for us to evaluate our own commitment to serving in a country we’re not familiar with — and a very, very warm country, at that. It’s also a time for our program directors to use their considerable experience to determine whether or not we’re a good fit for the program.
What is the program, you say?
Well, I’m perfectly prepared to stray farther and farther away from the original intent of this post, so put on your hiking boots (and send me some since I didn’t bring any) and come with me on this tangent!
We’ll work primarily with Colombian teachers to develop English teaching strategies. As a nation, Colombia aims to make the majority of its public school graduates bilingual. The communities we’ll be working with have specifically asked Peace Corps to provide trained teachers to train teachers. Each community waits years to get its volunteer, and Peace Corps shoots to have a volunteer in each community for a six-year period. That’s comprised of three two-year stints by three separate volunteers.
That’s a long-term relationship, I’d say. So let’s meander back to the original point: Peace Corps and I are dating right now; we’re trying to see if we’re right for each other.
Let’s call this stage the first date: We’re in a nice, air-conditioned hotel, our training sessions have been fairly short and manageable, and the real work has yet to begin.
I’ll let you know how the relationship goes.