Because of my PCMI program, I have a quite a few friends who are entering into the Peace Corps. And I think none of us understand what this enigma known as "staging" is actually about. For those that aren't in with the PC lingo, staging is a two day event that takes place in the United States immediately before departing for the country of service. PC flies all the volunteers in your training group to one city for a two day orientation of sorts. And then you all leave for your service together.
For one thing, staging also creates an awkward answer as to when do I leave for Kazakhstan. Well, officially it is August 19 at 9:35 PM from NYC's JFK airport (and after a bus ride from Philly too; the Peace Corps is already prepping us for international travel!). But August 17 is the day my Peace Corps really starts. That's when I leave Savannah (at 7:05 in the morning; no late night on Saturday....right....) and embark on my journey. And then I get to spend the next two days in "staging."
When you ask most volunteers about staging, they don't seem to have too much to say. I think that means it goes by quickly and then you bombarded with the shock of actually landing in your country of service and beginning your PST (pre-service training). Whatever happens for those two days probably seemed pretty minuscule. Well for all future volunteers who may be wondering what staging is, I will write about it before actually going. Thus, I will not forget to write about it after going.
The full itinerary is as follows:
Sunday, August 17, 2009
Welcome and Introductions
Peace Corps Approach to Development
Personal Definition of Success
Safety and Support
Anxieties and Aspirations
Nuts and Bolts
Monday August 18, 2008
8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
A Slice of Life: Coping with Unwanted Attention
Policies in Practice
1:30 - 6:00 PM
Change 5 Things
Bridge to Pre-Service Training
Logistics of Departure
Evaluation and Closing
Tuesday August 19, 2008
Bus arrives for loading and departure
Depart for Kazakhstan!
There ya go. That's staging described by someone who has never been to it.
And on a related note, I don't know about all the other volunteers, but honestly the first time I got nervous was when I saw that last line. "Depart for Kazakhstan!" That's the real thing. And it's going to happen on August 19. At 9:35 PM. That is the last time I plan on being in the United States until November 2010. Kazakhstan for 27 months begins right then.