12-17 New Friends!

Our trainees out on the island.  They are PCVs now.

On December 8th, Peace Corps Vanuatu group 24 swore to defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic and become Peace Corps Volunteers. I watched them do it and took lots of pictures on a borrowed camera.

The swearing in was a nice ceremony. Nothing too fancy, though they looked sharp in their island dresses and island shirts. Nothing like big floral print to say “Important Ceremony” in the South Pacific. There were speakers from Vanuatu and the ambassador from the US to see it all happen. I had a shell of kava with him afterwards. This is still Vanuatu.
The after party was at a American bar which includes swinging, saloon style front doors, a dog that likes to be petted and is welcome at the bar and a 10% discount for all PCVs. The bar is covered in American kitsch like license plates and a mounted deer head and serves things like jalapeno poppers. It is the perfect place for a Peace Corps after party. They also brew their own beer. I appreciate that.
The new group went to their sites the next week and are finding out what the realities of island life entail. So far, the reports I’ve heard back are more or less the same realities we’ve discovered. One of the volunteers who is replacing someone doesn’t have a house. It isn’t ready, even though the previous volunteer was living in it. Sound familiar? (That happened to Jason.) Another one got to site only to find out they’d built her kitchen with a raised bamboo floor. She was intending to cook on fire. Fires on bamboo floors are not recommended.
More new PCVs!

It is hilarious to hear the stories that we all faced last year from the new group as they experience these things for the first time. It is also a reminder of how I’ve grown and changed as a person. Or how my standards have just gotten lower than I ever dreamed possible.
Last year, another volunteer’s host family gave her plain white rice for lunch. She was horrified. She called me and I sympathized. Who eats just white rice for lunch? That is not a complete meal! Today, my brunch was plain white rice followed by a well-balanced and nutritious lunch of plain white rice. I got pineapple for dessert on that one. As far as most people here were concerned, I should be eating plain rice for dinner, too. I decided to roast some corn to go with it.
I hope the new group is discovering the insane, quixotic and wonderful island life. I hope I keep getting phone calls from them about their adventures, because the best part of being a Peace Corps Volutneer are the other Peace Corps Volunteers

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