Monday, May 28, 2012

Acceptance Verification for Namibia

I, Christina O'Keefe am accepting my invitation to serve as an English Teacher Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia, departing July 25th, 2012.

I hereby certify that I have read the Volunteer Assignment Description, Online Welcome Book, Core Expectations, and Pre-Departure Safety and Security Information included in the invitation packet and agree to abide by the policies therein.

Scariest e-mail I've ever had to send.  But it's going to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Well, after what seemed like the longest week ever, my invitation arrived late Friday afternoon.  In it was my invitation to serve as an English teacher in Namibia.  Completely surprised me.  Namibia wasn't even an option I was considering.  I kept thinking I would be going somewhere on the eastern coast of the continent.  But, the more I read about the country, the more excited I become.  Of course the first thing I did was tell my mother.  I'm not sure who was more excited to finally have news. 

That night, as the realities of my future set in, I started freaking out a bit.  Wow, 2 years in a small village in Namibia where I'm expected to be an expert teacher.  It finally became real for me.  And I was scared.  Can I do this?  Do I really want to live in a completely different culture for 2 years?  Will I be able to do my job?  Can I ever meet the expectations these people will have of me?  It's intimidating to think that these people are going to welcome me into their lives with open arms and expect me to change their worlds. 

Thankfully this weekend has been so busy that I didn't have much time to think.  My Swiss cousin, who has been living with us for the last year, is moving back home on Wednesday.  So, the entire family came down on Friday and we've been hanging out all weekend.  We also had a going away party yesterday, which kept me very busy.  Having family surround me during this time was great because it allowed me to soak in the news of where I am going and what I am doing without giving me too much time to overthink. 

I've been slowly reading the materials they sent me, as well as stories from returned Namibian volunteers over the last few days.  The information about health and safety were pretty heavy reading, but the images I've seen on Google make me so much more excited that I get the opportunity to live in a land so full of beauty. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Just Shoot Me Now!

Well, it's day 9 and I have yet to receive my inviation packet.  My ears have become incredibly sensitive to the sound of truck engines, but none of them seem to be the one I need.  I have been sitting here pretty much all week hoping that the next car down the street will contain my invitation.  It doesn't help that I haven't gotten a job since Monday, so I haven't had anything to do to distract me.  I've tried cleaning the house, but that only went so far.  I've started praying to the delivery gods, asking them to have my package come.  It hasn't worked yet. 

I've started scouring Peace Corps blogs, trying to find a good timeline of when people got their invitations.  Everything I've read makes me more anxious.  All of the blogs I've read talk about how they either got a phone call or e-mail congratulating them on their invitation and that it was in the mail.  I received neither of them.  Then the worry comes that maybe they made a mistake on the website and that they really haven't sent out my stuff.  Or that it got lost in the mail and that they'll have to resend it.  My dad joked that if he saw it first, he was going to hide it from me.  I know he wouldn't actually do that, but I checked all the normal places he would hide things.  No luck.

On Tuesday the FedEx delivery person actually came to the house.  I ordered an iPad last week to take with me to Africa, and I knew that either could arrive.  So, when the truck pulled up I had no idea which package it would be.  I don't think anyone's ever been so sad to get an iPad in the mail.  It hasn't done much to distract me in the last few days. 

People keep asking me (every day) whether I know where I'm going yet.  Every time I hear that question I get a little more frustrated.  I just want to turn to them and say, "Just shut up!  Of course I don't know yet.  You'll know when I do.  Stop reminding me that I have no idea where I'm going and that I could find out at any moment!!!", but instead I reply, "Not yet."  Every time I see my mom after work she has this look on her face.  "Do you know yet?"  it asks me.  I don't even say anything anymore.  One look at my face tells her everything she needs to know.

I keep telling myself that when I finally stop expecting it to come, it will arrive.  Yea, you try forgetting that some of the most important information ever is in the mail.  Come on, this will be telling me what country I'm going to be living in for the next 2 years and 3 months, as well as when I'm leaving.  You think I can forget about that?  Yea, I don' think so.  Not happening.  My dreams even revolve about Africa now.  It is definitely not leaving my head.  And I'm pretty sure it's only going to get worse once I know for sure.  Even now, as I'm writing this, I'm thinking, 'Maybe while I'm writing this the truck will pull up in front of the house and I'll feel silly for writing about how it hasn't arrived.'  Guess what, it's not working.  No truck.  No invitation.  No news.  Do you think the Peace Corps does this on purpose?  Trying to see how long we can wait with the anticipation?  If they are, that's just mean of them.  I mean, I've already waited a year.  Just give it to me already. 

So, I guess there's nothing I can do but wait some more, and try to distract myself.  Somehow.  Maybe if I go shopping it'll be on the porch when I get back.  Or not.  We'll see.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The anticipation is killing me!

So, I received my invitation e-mail Friday morning, and have had so much anxious energy ever since.  I thought the months of waiting for my invitation were tough.  Well, yesterday was worse than those months altogether.  Knowing that my invitation is actually on its way to me is so exciting!  And of course the first thing I did was read a blog to figure out how long it was going to take to get from DC to my house.  And of course the first (and only at the time) blog I read said they received it the next day.  So there I was yesterday, listening for the UPS truck, waiting for my package to arrive.  As the day rolled on, I realized that my hopes for my placement arriving were getting slimmer.  So, I looked at some more blogs, all which stated that they had to wait a few days at least.  Bummer.  And of course I had to go on the UPS website to double check that they even delivered on Saturday.  Guess what?  They don’t.  So my entire Saturday was spent waiting for a package that couldn’t have been delivered.  Yay for me. 

But, I am so excited to find out where I will be going.  It’s been so hard trying to be productive and research when all I know is a continent.  I’ve become pretty good at the geography of Africa in the last few weeks.  I can also tell you about trends relating to HIV/AIDS rates, literacy, major language, religion, and many other random things.  All I really want to do is find a returnee from my future home and be able to have frank conversations about life there.  I want to be able to learn about the culture, history, and current political climate.  I want to take my first step in the country not feeling like an idiot who knows nothing about where I am.  Baby steps though.  First I need to have the patience to wait those few long, long days until  I come home from work to a package at the door.  And when that day arrives (which I am hoping is tomorrow.  But let’s be realistic, it’s probably not.) I’m pretty sure that I will squeal with so much joy (yes squeal.  I’ve been looking for a good work to describe the sound that will come out of my mouth, and squeal seems the most accurate.  Shout, scream and yell won’t do it justice.) that the entire neighborhood will think I’ve finally gone insane.