Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Here Ends PST--08/17/15

            “I, Caleb LaRue, promise to serve alongside the people of Mongolia. I promise to share my culture with an open heart and open mind. I promise to foster an understanding of the people ofMongolia, with creativity, cultural sensitivity, and respect. I will face the challenges of service with patience, humility, and determination. I will embrace the mission of world peace and friendship for as long as I serve and beyond. In the proud tradition of Peace Corps’ legacy, and in the spirit of the Peace Corps family past, present, and future I am a Peace Corps Volunteer.”

            Eleven weeks of training have come to an end. On Saturday the 15th of August, Sally and I attended our swearing-in ceremony and are officially PCVs. It has been a long hot summer, but not a bad one. We have made many friends, many of whom are on their way to sites on the other side of the country. Some people are as far as a 50 hour bus ride from Sally and I’s new site.

            We spent most of last week in Darkhan attending final center days/training. Since it was the third time that we stayed in New Darkhan, it was fun to visit various restaurants and enjoy some Mongolian-American food. We also were able to meet and dine with our site mates. There are 6 PCVs from our cohort that will be going to the same aimag. Four of us will be in in the aimag center (Chinggis Town).

            After a week of training we attended the swearing-in ceremony. It was surreal. I found myself often wanting to slap myself. There are moments in life where you can almost somatically feel chapters changing. Moments that enormous amount of time, effort, and planning are needed to achieve. And when you finally find yourself in that moment time seems to shift into hyper speed, and you find yourself on the other side forever in a different chapter.  Sally and I have wanted to do the Peace Corps together for almost 6 years, prior to that it was something that we each thought of often. Here we are.

            The swearing-in ceremony was pleasant with speeches and presentation of certificates. It was almost like a graduation into Peace Corps after months of training. The highlight of the ceremony was the cultural performances that were done by PCVs. Sally’s group performed a popular Mongolian song and meshed it with “When I am Gone.” The songs sounded really good together and the combination of Mongolian and American music was a neat symbolic moment. Two other groups performed: a Mongolian dance and a solo song. The solo singer did a really good job.

            After the ceremony we had a short reception and spent time with my host mother and sister who had come to see us swear in. They presented us with a nice house warming gift for our new apartment in the form of a small statue of two Mongolian horses standing side by side.

            We traveled by bus to UB where we dined on amazing Cuban food. (For reasons unknown to me or my fellow PCVs a Cuban chef has set up in Ulaanbaatar.) After one night in the dorms we loaded all of our stuff, ourselves, and our two supervisors into a taxi destined for Chinggis Hot.   

            PST is over, the real challenge and job begins now.

~ Caleb 

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