It’s official. I have gone from Peace Corps trainee to Volunteer. I left my training site and am now in the village where I will serve for the next two years. What a life! Peace Corps service is certainly not for the faint of heart.
sad to leave Zhytomyr behind…
I found myself anxious towards the end of training, not because I didn’t want to go to my site, but rather because of all that I would be leaving. In a mere three months, I made lasting relationships with my language and technical trainers, my training group, and my host family.
As I was packing my things to move out of my host family’s apartment, I was surprised at the sadness I felt and knew I would have to visit soon. I will miss seeing my host mom peek her head into my room to tell me to come eat. They have a piece of my heart forever.
Between finishing the technical components of training and packing my life to move yet again, I barely had a moment to reflect on my personal experience as a trainee. By the time the swearing-in ceremony arrived, I realized that I would be without my friends I’ve made within the Peace Corps for the first time since arriving to Ukraine. It was such a bittersweet day. All our hard work finally paid off, and yet it was time to say goodbye (for now).
but excited for new beginnings
At the Transition to Service conference were new beginnings that have made those difficult goodbyes worth it. I met Oksana, one of my counterparts at the NGO where I will work as a PCV. We attended sessions together, and she was the first community member I met. Getting to know her helped me feel so much more at ease to move to a place I knew very little about.
I later met Alla, another counterpart of mine. We have hit the ground running with working on an application that was in place before I arrived, and have begun to discuss future projects for our community foundation’s involvement. I have been in my town for just three days, and have met nothing but amazing, kind people.
My host family in my new town has been instrumental in making me feel like I’m home. They are a young family in the process of building a house, and are better than anything I could have asked for.
The hospitality I have received in Ukraine is astounding, from my training host family to my new one, all the locals who have been patient with my minimal language skills, and to everyone who has invited me for tea or to have a meal. You all make this experience worth being over 5,000 miles from my mom and all sense of familiarity. Each day brings new sacrifices, and new blessings. I can’t wait to see what else this chapter of my life holds!
Edit: Click here to read more about my Peace Corps experience!