Somewhere in between the excitement of receiving a Peace Corps invitation and actually departing for your country of service, there’s this mysterious little pit stop called Staging. But what is it? Why does Peace Corps have it? Wouldn’t it be easier just to put us all on a plane? Turns out, staging is a handy little primer to what the next 27 months of a volunteer’s life will look like.
My group’s staging was held in Philadelphia the day prior to our departure for Zambia. According to my staging workbook, a typical staging agenda looks something like this:
1:00-2:00pm – Open Registration
Where we filled out a few forms, double checked our passports and visas, and collected some per diem money.
2:00-4:30pm – Who We Are, What You Expect, What’s Next
Where we learned about the background of Peace Corps, reviewed the 3 Peace Corps goals, the Peace Corps mission, the Peace corps Act, and talked about our aspirations and anxieties for service. I really enjoyed hearing about other people’s concerns and goals; finally, I’m not living in the fishbowl of my own brain!
4:50-7:00pm – What We Expect, Closing
Where we review the 10 Peace Corps expectations, learn about the next 48 hours of our lives (actually getting to Zambia), and “volunteer” group leaders to get the group through the hurdles of airport transportation, handing out passports and visas, etc.
2:00am – Check out of hotel
Way too early.
2:30am – Depart for airport
Everyone was really excited to get on the bus, and was asleep 15 minutes later. Three hour bus ride to the airport, then a four hour wait for South Africa Airlines check-in counter to open. Early birds get the…piles of suitcases?
But we’re here! And we’re excited! And we’re finally going to Zambia!
Overall, staging provides a really nice opportunity for everyone to gather in one place and get acquainted. We also had the opportunity to work with Peace Corps staff (professionals to the nth degree) and get oriented to the next few steps of our journey. We learned a lot about the various resources that are available to us, especially for our safety and security throughout our service. I was especially impressed by how Peace Corps staff really seem to understand the concerns of current volunteers (both trainers were RPCVs themselves), and really emphasize that everyone’s service is different. Plus, staging means I finally got to wrap a big ol’ hug around this gal:
Meeting the ZamFam has truly been the highest point of my journey so far. (Sneak peak: Kendal is featured in an upcoming post)
Next stop, Lusaka!