Halfway to Almaty, with the bus full of trainees, host family members, and an obscene amount of luggage (as many of us would be leaving right after the ceremony), our bus had slight mechanical problems. We pulled over to the side of the road as our driver opened up the back hatch and started working on something. I was excited about the fact of possibly missing swearing in altogether. It would have been a fitting way to close out a PST that began with a ten-hour delayed flight from Frankfurt. However, our driver did manage to fix it, and we continued the journey into Almaty.
I?m glad to say that the ceremony itself combined elements of both American and Kazakhstani festivals. Meaning it was a little hectic, not completely rehearsed, but overall entertaining. I am now officially a ?volunteer,? (because apparently when I was working in the community before, I was only a ?trainee,? whatever that means. You can expect a rant on how calling us volunteers when we do get paid confuses the idea of volunteerism that we are trying to promote here in Kazakhstan.) Our whole OCAP group also butchered a song written by our language LCF Dasha. There was a video taken of it; I hope it ends up on YouTube one of these days.
But for me, the most exciting part of the swearing in was the wonderful spread of food at the reception. Free food. And lots of it. And good food. And fruit. Oh, it was glorious. While most people were beginning to scour the tables for goodies to take home or on the train, I was still going strong on the current meal, maybe helping number six or so.
Too soon perhaps, but inevitably, we had to say our final goodbyes to our host families and other volunteers as we headed off to the train stations. PST had ended. Our little American bubble of friends was coming to a close. I was excited. The Real Peace Corps was about to begin.
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