Angela Wen of Los Angeles Selected for Peace Corps Education Assignment in Republic of Georgia ↘

I was featured on the West Coast PCV blog! So excited to begin this journey in a few days. I’ve been really enjoying my time in DC with family as well as some of the G14s! Post forthcoming.

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All Packed In!..Kind of

Today and yesterday have been pretty hectic, but I have officially gotten all my stuff in. Are the two checked bags within the dimension and weight limits? Questionable!! But I have contingency plans, and a plan to better distribute the weight once I inevitably unpack and repack it all at my sister’s place in DC.

As promised, I have uploaded my final packing list—click through for link to the page. I was going to take a picture of all my clothes and accessories laid out, but it was so haphazard that I began stuffing things into my luggage. Thank goodness for space bags, even if they are the reason I may go overweight.

Anyway, I was able to take a picture of the completed product:

Now for just a tad of sleep before my flight. I’ll miss you, Los Angeles!!

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Last Minute Woes

So, just over 24 hours until I leave Los Angeles for good. When you subtract time for sleep, that doesn’t leave much time at all.

I made my epic Target run earlier today, and my dad’s credit card is still hurting (thanks dad). I am still missing a few things that I’m going to pick up at CVS and Ralph’s tomorrow, and I just found something broken that I’m going to have to exchange at Target. Yikes. I am having ongoing problems with getting my prescriptions filled 3 months in advance. Right now it looks like I’m going to have to pay out of pocket for 2 of the months.

I may have underestimated just how much volume all the toiletries I’d like to bring will take. I’m really hoping for a miracle with these vacuumed space saver bags. I’m not really sure how I’ll get the stuff back in once I don’t have a vacuum at my disposal, but I’m going to try not to think about that right now…

In other news, I turned my language survey in when it was due. Unfortunately, I hadn’t made progress on the podcasts in a while—BUT I firmly attest that my laptop was in the Apple store for repairs for a full week. It’s just so hard to get things done without my baby! Today marked its triumphant return. 

Anyway, dear followers, you can look forward to an extremely comprehensive packing list I’ll have compiled before Sunday (I mean…I hope). It’s been sitting in my Drafts getting edited and re-edited so I’m excited to complete it. 

Onwards and upwards!

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The Peace Corps was the most democratic experience I have had of my country and the people who inhabit it. We crossed economic class, education level, age; we were an intensive kind of motley crew. We all had that feeling of, What are we doing here? I tried to have thoughtful conversations, tried to be a good guest and do what I was supposed to do as a presence. For me it was liberating to not be so aggressively climbing. I learned how to be alone. But it is true: the people who went with the best of intentions about helping the world were the ones who quit in the first six months. They didn’t make it because there was nothing to sustain that.

There were moments, yes, that were rude awakenings to what being American is. However liberal our sensibilities to our politics we seem maybe not to learn. I think maybe when you are Peace Corps or a teacher or writer, you continue to see yourself as an exception, and suddenly you realize others aren’t seeing that exception.
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10 things you might not know about Georgia ↘

Courtesy of the BBC, and my fellow G14 Carmen (blog link here). 

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When your departure date sneaks up on you out of nowhere

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I head out for DC on Sunday. Today is Wednesday. What!?

(Source: whatshouldbetchescallme)

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Every day, Americans carry forward the tradition of service embedded in our character as a people.

— President Barack Obama (via peacecorps)

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Just got an email from our country desk officer, Bina, with this “Bridge to PST” attached to it! It’s getting more and more real and I keep spending more and more money on things to pack.
Anyway, here are some highlights I thought was interesting from the attachment. They may not be interesting to you, but..ah well. 
We’re arriving in Georgia at ~3am April 29 (coincidentally also my birthday!)…and it’s likely that local media/TV will be there. What?? So we should look nice. Will probably have to change during our layover in Munich, because god knows I don’t want to spend a 24 hour overseas trip in business casual.
Georgia is 8 hours ahead of EDT, so 11 hours ahead of PST (my home time zone). Whoah.
We’ll be having orientation in a hotel not far from Tbilisi (the capitol) from April 29-May 3 focusing on the basics.
After lunch on Saturday, May 3, we depart for our “PST hub site,” Khashuri, and meet our PST host families! Khashuri is a small town right in the center of Georgia.
Many vaccinations are in my imminent future.
We’ll receive our Peace Corps cell phones with 5 lari in them, enough to make a ~5 minute phone call to the US.
Internet: slow but available at our initial hotel, intermittent and limited during PST. 
In Khashuri, we’ll be living in clusters of 5-6 people in small villages and towns surrounding Khashuri proper.
PST daily schedule: language training in the morning -> lunch break -> technical training. This will run Monday-Saturday, and language classes will be 5-6 days a week.
And finally, a general outline of what the whole of PST will look like:
Initial orientation: initial information, cross-cultural and language training, cluster group announcements
Weeks 1-2: Language and technical training. Every two weeks everyone will meet at the hub (Khashuri)—I’m assuming this will last for the duration of PST.
Weeks 3-6: In addition to the above, as an English Education (EE) teacher I’ll be observing local school sessions and team teaching with local English teachers. Self-assessments and staff assessments of skills and knowledge gained. Site assignments (!!!) made and we’ll information on where we’ll be living for the next two years. (Side note: can’t wait to finally be able to tell everyone where I’ll actually be living)
Weeks 7-11: Meet supervisors from our sites at a conference. Supervisors will bring us to our assigned sites to meet our future colleagues and host families. Upon returning to Khashuri, there will be a final qualification interview, a final language interview (eep), and a confirmation of commitment. Formal swearing-in ceremony on July 18! Then officially travel to assigned sites.
Suffice it to say that I’m stoked!! I’m also lagging a bit on my Georgian language podcasts, but I’m determined to have made some progress on them before the questionnaire is due within the week.
Edit to add: also, there are only 11 days until I leave for DC!! I’m torn between amongst nervous and excited and anxious (that I haven’t bought/packed enough) and preemptively nostalgic if that even makes sense. 

Just got an email from our country desk officer, Bina, with this “Bridge to PST” attached to it! It’s getting more and more real and I keep spending more and more money on things to pack.

Anyway, here are some highlights I thought was interesting from the attachment. They may not be interesting to you, but..ah well. 

  • We’re arriving in Georgia at ~3am April 29 (coincidentally also my birthday!)…and it’s likely that local media/TV will be there. What?? So we should look nice. Will probably have to change during our layover in Munich, because god knows I don’t want to spend a 24 hour overseas trip in business casual.
  • Georgia is 8 hours ahead of EDT, so 11 hours ahead of PST (my home time zone). Whoah.
  • We’ll be having orientation in a hotel not far from Tbilisi (the capitol) from April 29-May 3 focusing on the basics.
  • After lunch on Saturday, May 3, we depart for our “PST hub site,” Khashuri, and meet our PST host families! Khashuri is a small town right in the center of Georgia.
  • Many vaccinations are in my imminent future.
  • We’ll receive our Peace Corps cell phones with 5 lari in them, enough to make a ~5 minute phone call to the US.
  • Internet: slow but available at our initial hotel, intermittent and limited during PST. 
  • In Khashuri, we’ll be living in clusters of 5-6 people in small villages and towns surrounding Khashuri proper.
  • PST daily schedule: language training in the morning -> lunch break -> technical training. This will run Monday-Saturday, and language classes will be 5-6 days a week.

And finally, a general outline of what the whole of PST will look like:

  • Initial orientation: initial information, cross-cultural and language training, cluster group announcements
  • Weeks 1-2: Language and technical training. Every two weeks everyone will meet at the hub (Khashuri)—I’m assuming this will last for the duration of PST.
  • Weeks 3-6: In addition to the above, as an English Education (EE) teacher I’ll be observing local school sessions and team teaching with local English teachers. Self-assessments and staff assessments of skills and knowledge gained. Site assignments (!!!) made and we’ll information on where we’ll be living for the next two years. (Side note: can’t wait to finally be able to tell everyone where I’ll actually be living)
  • Weeks 7-11: Meet supervisors from our sites at a conference. Supervisors will bring us to our assigned sites to meet our future colleagues and host families. Upon returning to Khashuri, there will be a final qualification interview, a final language interview (eep), and a confirmation of commitment. Formal swearing-in ceremony on July 18! Then officially travel to assigned sites.

Suffice it to say that I’m stoked!! I’m also lagging a bit on my Georgian language podcasts, but I’m determined to have made some progress on them before the questionnaire is due within the week.

Edit to add: also, there are only 11 days until I leave for DC!! I’m torn between amongst nervous and excited and anxious (that I haven’t bought/packed enough) and preemptively nostalgic if that even makes sense. 

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Can we stop waiting
for the life we want to live,
and live it instead?
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Staging Details!!! ONE MONTH TO GO

Everyone got a bit antsy as we waited for our staging details, and sure enough the email arrived exactly a month before staging as Peace Corps promised. Here’s the gist…

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Legit! This is the first year in forever (I think) that Georgia is staging in DC instead of Philly. This makes me the happiest because my sister and brother-in-law live in DC!

I called to make my flight arrangements and asked to arrive a week early to hang out with the family and explore DC some more, so I’ll be going on April 20. My dad will join me on the 22nd. I’m excited for family time right before staging—couldn’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.

We’re actually flying DC -> Munich -> Tbilisi on Air Lufthansa instead of NY -> Istanbul -> Tbilisi on Turkish Airlines, and I’m all for splitting up the flights more evenly. I’ve never been to either Munich or Istanbul, but obviously hoping to change that in the near future. 

In other news, I’m finishing up ordering things off Amazon/buying them in real life, and am in the process of simultaneously moving back home, figuring out what to sell vs. donate, & packing for Georgia. Whew!

Also, I’m working on my Georgian language podcasts. We are required to fill out a survey by April 15th detailing which languages we had previously studied, which countries we’ve previously lived in, and how many podcasts we’d been through/plan on going through. So far I’ve gone through 13, and I’m hoping to really get the alphabet and some vocabulary down before I continue. There are 20 in total! I’ve also been using the website Memrise to help with the Georgian alphabet, which is a doozy. I can’t even pronounce some of the sounds, but I’m hoping in-person language classes will help. Wish me luck!

Less than a month to go!

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