I'm in Tana, saying goodbye to my 24, now official, Volunteer friends and awaiting my departure for my new home. Yesterday was our Swearing-In Ceremony, where we vowed to defend the U.S. against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Two members of the PC staff were Knighted by the Ministry of Education. Then, we met the U.S. Ambassador and ate dinner ate his house (where the ceremony was) with him and his wife. It was a nice little ceremony before we all start to head out to our sites in the next few days. It's 8 a.m. and I've already been up since 6:30, shedding a few tears as some of my new friends head off into the countryside of Madagascar. It's crazy how close you can get to a group of people so quickly.
I'm not even sure what to write at the moment. I know you all want some funny stories, and it's not that I haven't laughed over the last few days, because I have. But now some of the sobering moments come, when we 25 new volunteers are on our own for the first time in 10 weeks and most of us won't see each other until we have another training session around Christmas.
Thank you for the packages mom and dad, Dixie, and Gayle Ann. The goodies were amazing! And for the letters Aunt Jackie and Uncle Ron and everyone else who has written.
Just in case anyone is interested, my Christmas Vacation is from December 20-January 4. I will try to write more later on today before I leave for site tomorrow. I should have made a list of all the questions I've received so I could answer them. But, I should have plenty of time to write in the next month because I don't start teaching until September 22. Keep the letters coming (please); they mean the world to me. And enjoy the pictures. I love and miss you all. Let the next two years begin...
The sunset at our haven, Mantasoa.
Dorothy, Natalie, and Phil, sorting the peanuts before we roast them for our winning peanut butter. Part of the Mad Olympics we had in Mantasoa. We also had to fetch water from the lake with a "baby" on our backs (the reason Phil is wearing a lamba with a giant blanket in it), kill and clean a chicken, make a fire, boil water, make PB, and roast coffee beans.
Part of the Mad Olympics: that chicken is not fake FYI, and I was not brave enough to help with the action at all. Good job Natalie.
The days before Swearing-In in Mantasoa: Lauren and I, after the trainees lost to the training staff in both basketball and volleyball. I had a few minutes to cool down, but I was mad at first. To my former coaches...I played hard and pretty good. You'd have been proud:)
Jeff, almost an official PCV at this point, giving his Kabary (speech) in Malagasy.
During the ceremony. More pictures of me, dad. Just for you.
All dressed up for the ceremony. Note: Just like when I'm at home, only the dress and necklace are mine--I borrowed the rest:)
Our training staff: some of the most amazing characters (seriously) I have ever met.
Natalie, Ronda, Kinsey, Jessica: New Volunteers waiting for lunch at the U.S. Ambassador's house after Swearing-In.