New home, another move and we’re officially Peace Corps Volunteers

Kyrgyz language, food, inoculations, motivational sessions, vodka, more Kyrgyz, food, tea, trainings and even more Kyrgyz.  This has been our lives for the past two months but today the first part of our Pre-Service Training comes to and end and we were sworn in as Peace Corps volunteers!

We woke up at 6am tired but excited for the day.  Our luggage had swelled with the addition of the copious amounts of paper, books and medical supplies the Peace Corps provided us (I had to break out the extra backpack I brought).  Our family helped us load it into the Marshrutka for the short drive to the Hub site where three buses were waiting.  All 54 of us volunteers loaded the buses with our host moms and for the 3rd time in 4 days we headed off to Bishkek.  We arrived shortly to the Kyrgyz National Opera and Ballet Theater and filed in to a beautiful hall that had decayed a bit but still had much of the glory from the Soviet days.

We ran around taking photos with each other and our LCFs, the last time we’re going to see them for a couple months (a long time when we’ve been spending all day every day together).  In addition to us, taking in the ceremony were members of the Kyrgyz government, the US embassy and the US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Pamela L. Spratlen.  We took our seats for the ceremony.  We enjoyed speeches by Tammie Harris, our Country Director and the US Ambassador. Also, three excellent speeches by fellow K-22s, Serena, Amanda & Tim in Kyrgyz, Russian and English respectively.  Between the speeches we also had performances by Shawn, who played the guitar and sang a Kyrgyz song, and Jonathan, who performed a piece from Manas, the Kyrgyz epic poem.  We closed out the ceremony with Ambassador Spratlen administering the Peace Corps Oath, we are now PC Volunteers!

After the ceremony we tried to get a snack (but the Kyrgyz women had already hidden all the food in their purses) so instead we just found our bags and said our goodbyes.  It felt a little strange to be saying goodbye to these people we knew so well.  We’ve known them only 8 weeks but done so much together.  Promises to keep in touch and visit soon were made and we met up with our counterparts, threw our bags in the minivan and began our trip out to Balykchy.

Here we are in front of the symbol of Kyrgyzstan
Here we are in front of the symbol of Kyrgyzstan
Hopefully the last time for awhile we pack these.
Hopefully the last time for awhile we pack these.

After a quick lunch at a café on the way out of the city, we hit the road.  We were excited for the drive (but pretty sleepy) even though we’ve been on the same road twice before. This time it was the middle of the day and we were in a comfortable car (vs. a massive bus), so we could see more of the sites.  The drive was supposed to take two hours but ended up taking a little over three because of all the stops.  A gas stop, a couple bathroom/get more beer stops (Eric’s counterpart treated him), a stop just to look at the river.  But we didn’t mind, it was our first trip like this here so it was fun.  We tried to make conversation with the counterparts and driver.  Between English, Kyrgyz and a little Google Translate we learned a few things.  It turns out the road even goes through Kazakhstan for a ¼ mile so we’ve technically been there now.  Around dinner time we arrived to our new home.  We dropped off our bags and sat down for food and chai, it was a great evening.  Our new home and family are great, we’ll have more to share soon.

Taylor with our Counterparts to her right and our driver to her left on the drive to Balykchy
Taylor with our Counterparts to her right and our driver to her left on the drive to Balykchy

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