Previously when you were accepted into the Peace Corps you would get the infamous “big blue packet”. This packet arrived in the mail and contained your invitation, handbook, medical tasks. Now, everything is done digital. You receive your invitation through e-mail. Attached to the e-mail is your assignment, and about 50 other packets and tasks to complete… it’s quite overwhelming.
This is my invitation – seeing as it took 10 months to received, I couldn’t stop looking at it for hours. It’s probably one of the best feelings of the whole experience. I was quite surprised by the country of Ethiopia. I had closely been watching what countries people were being invited to and had only seen one other person invited to Ethiopia. Even after speaking with my placement officer there were two Sub-Saharan countries I was convinced it would come down to . However, the surprise of Ethiopia was pleasant. The country is rich in history and culture and has so much to offer.
I will be working as a Community Health Volunteer, focusing on HIV/AIDS Prevention – this part was not a surprise to me. From the beginning my sector was health. I was told to focus on HIV/AIDS, women’s health, and child nutrition volunteer opportunities. So that is exactly what I did. For six months I was a mentor a high school health class (focusing on kidney health) and immediately after that I began volunteering for a HIV/AIDS residential center. It is still unclear what exactly my job in Ethiopia will be. I won’t know what I will be doing until training is over and my language and technical skills have been assessed.
I will be gone for 27 months, starting February 2014. Staging is a 2 day orientation held on the East Coast. We will then fly to Ethiopia for three months of pre-service training – which includes training in the language (Amharic), technical skills, and integration into the culture. During this time I will live with a host family that will help me learn to live as they do. February 12 is the official day my service begins. We are sworn in a volunteers and sent to our towns to live and work on our own – scary! It’s insane to think it will be 2016 when I return and I will be 27 years old!