Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Staging... and Goodbye to America!

I arrived in Washington DC last night for Staging, after a whole day of traveling from California. I started out the day by waking up at 5:30am to head to the airport, then stood in line for almost an hour to check in my bags. But the line was worth the wait, for the United Airlines ticketing agent actually didn't even weigh my bags or charge me to check them (which was awesome because it saved me $60). There was a surprising large number of people at the airport for so early on a Monday morning, and I got to my gate just 10 minutes before boarding began. I've never cut it that close to a flight, and that was pretty stressful, but I made my flight and thats what counts! The middle seat, on the other hand, is another story.... but I managed to sleep most of the time and neither person sitting next to me was super overwhelmingly chatty so it actually wasn't that bad after all.

I love traveling across the country!
I flew from San Francisco to Chicago, and met up with another Peace Corps Volunteer named Nicole. Nicole flew to Chicago from Missouri and we actually lucked out and had seat next to each other on the flight to DC, which was awesome because then we just chatted and got to know each other the whole time. I've never been to Washington DC before, so flying in was a cool experience... you can see all of the famous national monuments like the Capitol building and the Washington Monument from the air! My friend Stephanie picked us up in DC and after touring around the city for a bit, we made it to our hotel near Georgetown. Stephanie unashamedly took this photo by sticking her hand out of the car window at a stoplight (while it was red of course), like a true tourist.

The Washington Monument!
Nicole, Stephanie and I met the other few PCVs that had flown into DC that night. Staging was actually today, but everyone coming from the west coast like California got to fly in a day early since it takes like a whole day to travel to the east coast (with the 3 hour time change and whatnot). Then we went out to dinner at a little restaurant downtown that served Spanish-style tapas. Here is our group from dinner!

Thanks to Nitai for the photo :)
I ordered way too much food (as usual), but it was delicious! I got some bruschetta-style bread with tomatoes and proscuitto, fried calamari and aioli sauce, and some papas fritas (spicy fried potatoes).

So many noms.
Staging was a really interesting experience, I got to meet the rest of my group that had been delayed due to visa/passport processing. There are 37 people headed to Ukraine with me tomorrow! We went over a lot of the Peace Corps' Core Expectations and some more country-specific information about Ukraine. We received information like what to expect from our host families and the language learning program in Ukraine. I am not sure if I will be learning Russian or Ukrainian yet, but I will find out really soon once I get to Ukraine.I learned lots of cool facts like how Ukraine is currently the largest country of service for the Peace Corps, with over 350 volunteers currently serving there in Education, Health Extension, and Youth/Community Development. Our Staging Director also pointed out that we will be in Ukraine for the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps, since the Peace Corps was started in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy (JFK).

President JFK with a group of the first PCVs in 1961. Image courtesy of The National Archives.
 We also discussed some logistics of traveling - I'm going to be one of the six "Group Leaders" to help ease the process of traveling to the airport on two charter buses, checking in at the gate, passing out everyone's plane ticket stubs and passports, and keeping track of all our luggage for all 37 people. I love logistics (the link is included for those of you who may not be familiar with the term logistics, I certainly had no idea what it was until I switched my major to Industrial Engineering). This may not be an example of traditional Industrial Engineering logistics of transportation and distribution, but traveling with large groups of people like this certainly takes some logistical organization. Whoops, I got off on a nerdy tangent since I love stuff like improving efficiency, reducing travel time and logistics.

Tomorrow is going to be a super hectic day! We are all checking out of the hotel around 12noon (I'm going to check out a little early to try to avoid the bottleneck there) and flying to Frankfurt, Germany then to Kyiv, Ukraine. So this is my last post from American soil for a while, and my next post will mark the beginning of my adventures in Ukraine : ) All of us PCVs are really excited about flying halfway across the world to start our journey in Ukraine!

4 comments:

Sally K said...

so if you haven't noticed, i respond to my friends' blog updates in a bullet format... just fyi.

- glad they didn't weigh your bags! even though that's really unusual and weird...
- i have a friend named stephanie in d.c. too! probably not the same one
- i love tapas!!
- what is staging?
- you should learn both languages!! get it all while you're still young :)
- your nerdy paragraph is funny
- HAVE A SAFE FLIGHT!!!!

mostlypake said...

Thanks for that, Jing! I'm Warren's mom and, as with most guys, he's not terribly communicative with his folks. So, I appreciate your update regarding what happened yesterday. Good luck with the flight over and every day after!

Bi said...

Good luck, Jing!!! I'm so excited for you!!

Kelli said...

OMGGG

I just saw a new UPS commercial and instantly thought of you. I don't know if this link will work in the Ukraine of not, but it's http://thenewlogistics.ups.com/#/scale/media?item=1,1&gclid=CILj_aD1iqQCFaTY5wod93irIQ&WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=iPros_Logistics-NonBranded_48752252

if it doesn't work, search for UPS New Logistics commercial :)


Miss you tons! I hope you're having fun

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