On June 19th I swore in as an official Peace Corps volunteer. Our K-22 group of 55 volunteers along with families, counterparts and Peace Corps staff filled the Bishkek Opera-Ballet and excitement filled the air as we all took our seats, followed by relief as we all took the Peace Corps oath.
Because photos can narrate better than I can, here they are:
Amanda, Stephen and I before swearing in.
Stephanie and I will both live and work on the North shore of lake Issyk Kul
Usen, our Russian teacher and “Master of Ceremony” (obviously an occastion that merits the popular Kyrgyz metallic pants)
The Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan Country Director, Tammie, made an inspiring welcome speech which was translated for our families as well.
We were sworn in by the American Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Mrs. Pamela Spratlen. You can read more about Ambassador Spratlen on the U.S. embassy site here: http://bishkek.usembassy.gov/ambassador2.html
and Sean sang a Kyrgyz son, which was quite a hit
My PST host mother and I before I left for Issyk Kul. She made me promise that I would visit every time I was in Chui, to which I reminded her she still had to host me in August and she couldn’t possibly get rid of me before she taught me how to make yogurt.
Our Russian language group with Master of Ceremony and teacher Usen. Out of the Six of us, two will be going to Issyk Kul and the other four to Chiu. (from left to right: Stephen, Forest, Lila, me, Usen, Ashley and Amanda)
After the ceremony, we waited outside the opera house for the mashrutka some of the volunteers heading to Issyk Kul were sharing. Our mashrutka driver finally showed up (2 hours later) and we crammed all 6 volunteers, our excessive amount of stuff and 6 counterparts into one mashrutka.
My counterpart, Guljamal, fell asleep on the way there. Probably exhausted after having to be such a sympathetic listener to my explanation as to why American’s had so much stuff in my unintelligible Russian language
We each arrived to our respective sites safe and sound after a long, crowded and bumpy ride along Issyk Kul’s northern shore to the open and loving homes of our new host families. I am so happy to be settled in my new home and am looking forward to exploring this town, this country and it’s culture.
In a region of the world where United States presence is fading, I am excited and proud to work and serve as a Health Education Peace Corps volunteer. I am sure I will discover many roles I can fill in my village, in my work, in my family and in this country, but I am most excited to learn through these roles about the people of Kyrgyzstan. Cheers to seeing what the next two years holds!