Archive for May, 2008

Leaving San Fran…

Just completed “staging” in San Francisco and am off to Seoul and then Mongolia tomorrow.   I’ve had a day and a half of seminars with my 62 fellow Peace Corps Volunteers covering everything from how to avoid unwanted attention to how to be culturally sensitive.  We’ll get a lot more of that, plus other subjects, in our 3 months of Pre-Service Training.  Hope to speak enough Mongolian to be able to communicate on a basic level by the end of training.

Members of my group are from all over the country.  Includes two married couples and all mostly 20-somethings.  10% of us are in health care, 10% in community youth development, 10% in community economic development (that’s me) and the rest are TOEFLRS (English teachers of various types).  Did you know Peace Corps is in 139 countries…and counting?  Currently about 85 people are in Mongolia including a group coming home soon.  Peace Corps has been sending people to Mongolia since 1991 so we are called the M-19s–the nineteenth group to go.

For the first three months and perhaps a little longer I won’t have much access to e-mail or my blog.  So my next communication will be a bit delayed. Tracy took the photo below of me in my Peace Corps hat with all my gear around me.  Wish I had a sherpa to carry it for me!  And believe it or not, I really packed light!


Two roller bags, a backpack, and a messenger-type bag

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May 30, 2008 at 6:07 am Leave a comment

Packed and ready to go

My ticket arrived today!  At 7:45 a.m. on Friday, May 30, I take off for San Francisco, the “Staging Location” as Peace Corps puts it.  Those of us heading for Mongolia (about 65, I hear), will gather for a day and a half of meetings before flying out on Sunday to Seoul and then on to Ulaan Bataar, the capitol of Mongolia.  From there, I have just found out that we will go to Darkhan, a town about three hours north of Ulaan Bataar.  After a week, we’ll be splitting into groups and go to our training communities. That’s the period when I’ll be living with a family and attending classes during the day learning the Mongolian language and its culture, how to keep safe and healthy, and all the other skills to make the next two years most productive.  During that period, Peace Corps will decide where I’m to be for my two years of service. 

            During the Pre-Service Training, I probably won’t have access to the Internet so the next time you hear from me, I will have a new “permanent” Mongolian address.  Meanwhile, I’m wrapping up the final details of preparation.  Last week, Tracy came up to help me and we did a trial packing.  My neighbor, David Breashears, is lending me a sizable duffle with wheels (which has been up on Mt. Everest!) that will hold all my winter clothes and remain at Peace Corps in the capitol for the summer.  I’ll have a smaller roller bag to take to the training site.  That, plus a backpack, rounds out my luggage. It’s an interesting challenge to pack for 27 months, especially since Peace Corps keeps reminding us: “Pack light!” 

            A local newspaper in Salem interviewed me today about this venture.  I’m a bit ambivalent about being interviewed.  I’d love for the article to encourage others who have “life experience” to apply to the Peace Corps or something like it.  On the other hand, I had hoped to just slip out of town unnoticed. 

            People keep asking me, “So, are you excited? Are you having second thoughts?”  As the day draws near, I am eager to get on the road.  Sure, there’s a bit of apprehension going to a country so far away, learning a new language, eating a lot of mutton, having family and friends so distant.  But I think I’m ready for this and, after all, if not now, when?

May 20, 2008 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment


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