At the beginning of every Peace Corps story is something referred to as “staging”. Different cohorts meet in different cities around America depending on their future country of service. Volunteers serving in Asia typically stage on the West Coast whereas we, the 31st group of Moldova volunteers, staged in Philadelphia. Peace Corps paid for our flights from our most convenient airport to Philly where we stayed in a hotel right in the middle of the Old Town district (we were about a 5 minute walk from Independence Hall).
For the next 2 days, we attended training sessions where we were taught about various subjects that would pertain to our service: cultural iceberg model, cycle of adjustability, cultural sensitivity, etc. Our staging was a bit longer than most posts because Moldova is a Let Girl Learn country so we received extra gender-equity training that we would be able to utilize within our future communities. Outside of sessions, we spent time with various members of our “government-issued family” enjoying our favorite American foods for the last time, visiting the local sites, and talking about all kinds of random things.
On our third day, we all packed up on a bus to travel to JFK where we would leave the USA for the next 27 months of our lives. Little did we know the bonds that would be forged or the memories that would be made with this M31 family. Our “government-issued family” has become an integral piece of my life story and will continue to impact my life for years to come.