Tuesday, August 09, 2005

This is the Real Thing, Baby

Well, at long last I'm an official PCV. We had our Swearing-In ceremony on the 29th of July, and that following Sunday the Peace Corps drove everyone out to their respective sites. Everything went down like this:

The afternoon of Swearing-In we dressed in our finest. I wore a nice Aloha shirt I hadn't worn ever, brought just for the occasion, along with khaki linen slacks; but I was very sore that I'd neglected to bring my kukui nut lei, which would have perfectly rounded out the ensemble. I have a really nice one, with these polished black kukui nuts spaced apart by clusters of tiny little shells. It looks fab with a black and tan Aloha shirt.

Anyway. So we went to the Cultural Center in Georgetown, which was basically like an Opera house, and probably one of the nicest buildings in all of Guyana. It had a large theatre, of which only about a tenth was filled with people who came out for our "graduation," but we didn't mind -- the media was there, and so we ended up on the news! The ceremony itself was about two hours long, involving a few (thankfully) short speeches by our CD, APCD, a representative of the Embassy, and a representative of the Guyanese Education department. Afterward we were called up one by one onto the stage, where we were handed a piece of paper which declared we had successfully finished out Training and were proper PCVs. It was very much like a graduation ceremony in that sense, minus the cap and gown. When this was finished, we stood in a long line and the CD's wife and the wife of the guy from the Embassy went down and gave each of us a nifty little Peace Corps lapel pin, which had the Peace Corps circle logo underneath the crossed Guyanese and American flags.

Following this, we resumed our seats and a local dance troupe of several young ladies from a local church came out and did a stunning interpretive dance to Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father," which was so moving it was hard to avoid bursting into tears. Seriously. I want to weep just thinking about it. Whoops! There I go.

Afterward, we were called up on stage en masse to give our own speeches, those of us who chose to do so. Mercifully, only three of us wanted to do this. Following this, we gave the Peace Corps a nice surprise with a pair of songs a fellow Trainee had written to the tunes of "My Favorite Things" and "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music. If I can find my copy of the lyrics I'll post them here. It was amusing, and got some good laughs.

The ceremony over, we held a brief reception upstairs, with pupu platters and delicious cherry juice. As this ended we made our way to the Ocean View hotel for our big party. This was a nice bit of symbolism, because the Ocean View was the hotel we stayed at for a couple of days when we first arrived in Guyana. The party went well -- we had it catered and had a d.j., though I ended up not getting completely drunk, as I predicted I would. That isn't to say others didn't get totally drunk: we had one volunteer who was so hammered on the way home she vomited like a fountain and then passed out. Ah, frivolity.

Some of us wanted to go from the party directly to the National Park, where dancehall legend Beenie Man was having a concert that very night (horrible timing!!!) but the Peace Corps said absolutely NO. We had a special APCD just for training, a great guy and a wonderful teacher (and a Rasta, to boot) and his last act as our temporary APCD was to see us all home safely. One volunteer, drunk and not making the best decisions, slipped away on the sly with some PCVs from previous years who were going to the concert. She was found out because her alibis didn't jive with each other, and came damn close to being Administratively Separated on the very night of her Swearing-In! Scary thing is, I dang near went with her that night... but as I said, I wasn't that drunk, so better judgement prevailed and I dodged that particular bullet.

In the end, we all went home and woke up as PCVs. I was remarking to another volunteer here in New Amsterdam that it's almost like it took me 7 years to make it through Training... But I'm here, and it's f-ing awesome!



Anonymous said...

I'd forgotten how restrictive training could be-the Beenie Man incident. I'm sure he'll be back in town again. I choose 9/11 to be out of my site without calling the CD out of site #. Bad idea! Learn from your buddies trip out.

amber said...

Your blog is great! It's hard to find blogs with good content and people talking about lapel pins these days! I have a secret lapel pins blog if you want to come check it out!