Language classes, this is how its done!!!

Intro to med training!

Hanging out in the PC volunteer lounge!! It has AC!!!

Not the best photo, but this is pretty much how my outfits will look like for the next 27 months!

Getting to Tanzania and first day here!

I have finally arrived to Tanzania!

I left my house early morning on July 5, 2014. The sun was not even up yet as I headed to the airport. A wonderful group of friends and family took me to PDX and said final good-byes as I ventured into the unknown future! I arrived to Philadelphia and that same night a group of about 15 volunteers went out to eat and walk around the city. It was really nice to be able to meet my roommate and fellow volunteers before any official business. The next morning we had our staging event where we became Peace Corps Trainees (PCTs)!!!!

We were scheduled to leave to JFK airport the next morning at 2 am. All 61 of us volunteers + some staff, with all 150+ bags were filling up the hotel lobby for about 40 minutes when staging staff announced that our busses will be at least 2 hours late. After a few more bumps in the road we got to the airport with time to spare were I made my last phone call. After 15 hour flight to J-Burg and a 6 hour layover, we finally boarded our plane to Dar es Salaam!!! The flight was pretty short and we were greeted by PC staff at the airport!!!

We are spending out first week in Dar at a Catholic Mission compound. When we arrived at the compound there were more PC staff and volunteers (PCV) greeting us here and cheering for us as we walked into a hall where we will have our meetings this week. We all got cool PC bags with malaria meds, water, mosquito repellant + folders with paperwork. After instruction on malaria meds, receiving our room keys, and taking group photo we headed to dinner: delicious dinner!!!!

Our room here is quite nice. I have 2 roommates and we have our own bathroom with a shower. The beds all have mosquito nets; I’m quite happy that all the bug cannot get to me while I sleep. I went to sleep at 10 pm and did not have to wake up till 6:45 am. However, my body was ready to be up at 3:30 am. I decided to be productive in the early morning hours and washed some clothes and wrote some of this blog.

Today (July 9) we had interviews with medical officers to choose malaria prophylaxis and get a vaccine schedule (I got 2 vaccines today and will be getting 5 more soon).

Food: for the next 10 weeks we will be getting breakfast (7:30), chai break (10am), lunch (noon), soda break (3:30) and dinner (7pm). Both chai and soda brakes also include a snack.

Training: our training sessions go from 8 am to 5 pm and cover everything from, how to prevent theft, how to make a filter, how to test your blood for malaria, how to get/use a cellphone and many more topics.

Swahili: today we had open time to practice Swahili on our own. I know how to say basic greetings and a few other sentences but our official training has not started yet.

I am posting this blog from PC office in Dar and I am not sure when I will have access to internet again. I love you all!!!!! 

At this time please DO NOT send me packages yet! 

WHY I DECIDED TO APPLY and TIMELINE

As many of you know, I had a dream to go to medical school after college. I have worked towards this goal for multiple years and applied to start med school in fall of 2013. Unfortunately I did not get accepted and decided to wait a year and apply again the following cycle. However, God had different plans for me. As I was waiting for interview invitations, God asked me to do something crazy: give up medical school to Him. Medical school preparations had consumed my life, everything I did had to make me more competitive for admission. I talked with God for a long time and tried to bargain with Him. I told Him that I have nothing to look forward to if I don’t go to medical school, but He was pretty clear. Finally, after hours of contemplation, I trusted my life into God’s hands. I felt relived and free. For a week I had no idea what would happen in the future.

On November 19, 2013 I got an e-mail from Peace Corps (PC) reminding me that a while ago I had created an account with them. The e-mail also stated that if I submit my application before December 1, I can potentially begin service by Fall 2014. I never seriously considered PC and created the account out of curiosity. However when I received this e-mail, my heart started beating faster and I logged back into the application portal (surprisingly I still remembered my login information). That evening I prayed and asked God if PC is something that He had prepared for me. I was scared and didn’t want to make another big plan for my life that God would later ask me to sacrifice. However, I did not hear a “NO” from God and by November 23, 2013 I submitted my application. I did not tell anyone about this because I had no idea of my odds of getting in, whether I am qualified or any other details about PC. This is what happened next: 

November 23: Submitted my application, received access to medical portal, filled out medical history forms. 

November 26: Received e-mail to contact my references to make sure the letters of recommendation would be submitted within 10 business days. 

December 9: Received e-mail to schedule my PC interview.

December 13: Had my interview which was held at PSU. At this point I told my sister Larisa that I applied to PC. 

December 23: Received a call asking me to fill out a detailed report of my teaching/tutoring experiences. 

January 31: Received an e-mail saying I was nominated for an Education program (without any details, not even region). Also same day received an e-mail that my fingerprint cards are in the mail and that I was medically pre-cleared. 

February 11: Peace Corps received my fingerprint cards

February 18: Received an e-mail stating I was legally pre-cleared.

February 20: Received an e-mail from my recruiter asking if I would like to be considered for an earlier departure to teach in a secondary school in either science or math subjects. Was given a week to decide if I wanted to be considered. Immediately said I would want to be considered and that I did not have a teaching preference. 

February 26: GOT INVITED TO SERVE IN TANZANIA. Primary assignment - Secondary School Mathematics Teacher! Staging - July 7, 2014. Went crazy from fear and excitement! That same night I told my parents that I applied to PC and got invited. (Staging is sort of an orientation that is held in a US city where we meet fellow volunteers and then travel together to the county of service). 

February 28: Accepted my invitation! That same day received several e-mails with new portal to fill out legal paperwork. Another portal for medical paperwork. Then came two months of doctor appointments; dentist appointments; positive TB test; more doctor appointments; more x-rays and more dentist appointments. 

April 25: Received an e-mail stating that I got my final medical clearance. 

June 6: Got my “Staging Instructions” email and directions to book my flight. Found out my departure date will be 2 days earlier than I planned. 

July 5: Scheduled Departure from home. 

Now, that I have exact date and time of my departure, things are starting to become scary real. I still have things to purchase and paperwork to take care of. I am now making my final rounds of coffee dates with friends and wait with fear and excitement for this next stage of my life!