I’m so ecstatic that Peace Corps doesn’t have the rule: “You don’t talk about staging” because then I’d have nothing to blog about.

The holiday inn in Philadelphia was intimidating. People surrounded me that I knew only from a picture on 4shared. The carpet had the pattern of those weird optical illusion pages and when you looked at it in concert with the wallpaper, the room seemed to move in and out like the tide. Pretty trippy.

Icebreakers and sharing followed Peace Corps history and skits about Core Expectations. It was a relief to find out how nervous and anxious everyone was and that I wasn’t alone. People ask you what you’ll do in Mali and you just picture yourself isolated in the heat eating nothing but millet and talking to your goat. It’s really a black hole. We still don’t know where we will be placed – but it is OK because we are making friends and becoming a ‘family’. I miss everyone already (especially Linguini) but I know it will be okay. It will be a fantastic experience and while I’ll try to keep my nausea subsided from the nerves that still persist, I am trying to keep an open mind and try as hard as I can to push through.

One thing I will say is that there is a difference between patience and dealing with poor time management that could be better. Waiting for shots for several hours in a room with nothing to do wasn’t my idea of a good time so early in the morning. We could have slept in or taken a shower. However, it did give my group a great time to be bored together, play the “haha” game laying on our stomachs and work together to untie our ‘human knot’. I did have fun and my fellow soon-to-be volunteers are people I am relieved to be around.

Speaking of that, don’t you just love how the PC screens its volunteers. I know for a fact that none of these people are all about drugs or drinking or have been to prison and they are all goal-oriented ambitious and intelligent people. They have experience, drive, and most importantly – a personality. They have a sense of humor and I know that we have something in common- we are crazy enough to join the Peace Corps and go to Africa for two years. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Ok, so I want to get off this computer to talk to the airline agent to get a window seat. I had some technical errors and setbacks here (like my zipper on my luggage breaking) so check-in wasn’t exactly smooth, but it’s working itself out.

oh, and just so people know. I think I’m going to need new chacos sandals, mine have a broken strap in back.

If anyone is sending anything, try writing “God Bless” or “God is watching” as people say it might deter theft a bit since Mali is 90% Muslim. And don’t label as high cost or valuable- increased risk of theft. To contact me, go to the contact page and all the information is there.

Stay tuned for details on the flight and first days of training. Frequency of blogging will change.

Btw, philly cheesesteaks rock!

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3 Responses to

  1. Barb from Minnesota says:

    “God Bless” Dan! Thanks for a great blog. Looking forward to more posts as they become available!

  2. Allister says:

    Great post, and i hope staging goes excellent, followed by an incredible and rewarding twenty seven months.

    My medical packet is being sent to peace corps on Tuesday I think and my recruiter is trying to ship me out asap. I’m so excited.

    What are some of the coolest occupations or accomplishments of volunteers in your group, and what are your own? (if that’s not too personal).

    Lastly, what did you have as your last meal prior to heading to staging?

    Best wishes,


  3. Mom and Arnie says:

    Hi! So glad to hear that you are getting along with your fellow volunteers in Philly. Can’t send anything now but will wait until you are at your site.

    While in Philly, try a soft pretzel with mustard. It is a signature Philly snack and was Grandman Cecelia’s favorite.

    Also, what are the Marlboro 27s for? Do you smoke now or are these for trade?

    When is your flight?

    Take care, Love,

    Mom and Arnie

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