The way that Peace Corps sends you out to your assigned country is through a process called staging. Everyone in your “stage” (think like a graduating class, it’s everyone else who has received the same invitation) gathers in the appointed US city on a certain date. Each stage has a name and a number to identify their country and job. So, since my job is in the education sector and we will be the fourth education group to be [back] in Rwanda [after the genocide], we will be Ed4. During staging you do lots of paperwork, get some shots and generally get to know your stage. Then you spend the night in whatever hotel they decide to put you up in and then you all fly out to your country the next day as one, big group.
Staging is your last time to enjoy all things American, and is usually accompanied by big hamburgers and good ol’ American beer.
It also is the first time you are a Peace Corps Trainee, kicking off the first three months of Peace Corps service. The change from a Pace Corps Invitee (PCI) to a Peace Corps Trainee (PCT) is the last shift before you become an official Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV, try and keep up with the acronyms, the Peace Corps LOVES them and will be sprinkled into everyday writings). This letter change is something that I am eagerly waiting for. This waiting game was made more poignant by the events of today.
Until today, there was always another stage leaving for Rwanda before my own. They had the Facebook group, the numerous questions about what to pack and how one can still fit clothes in their bags around the fifty pounds of candy that currently occupies their luggage.
However, today Health4 Rwanda all gathered in Philadelphia to begin their Peace Corps journey! This means that all of a sudden, I am at bat.
If there is one thing that the Peace Corps application process teaches you, it is patience. As I slowly approach my two-year anniversary since starting this process, I am ready. I am ready for the long hours of language training. I am ready to take a bucket shower. I am ready to not be reliant upon the Metro. Granted these feelings could be based upon the fact that I still have four months until my own staging date so I don’t have to “not be ready”. Not be ready to miss big events like weddings (shout out to my fellow Goocher, Rachel!). Not be ready to say goodbye to the most wonderful family and friends that I could ask for. Not be ready to deal with giant spiders. Not be ready to not have a Diet Dr. Pepper when I need/ want one (which let’s face it, is always). So until September 10, when I gather with my own stage and get on that flight bound for Kigali, Rwanda, I wait patiently to swing at the fastball that is coming. Just as the Peace Corps has taught me to.