|Just after swearing-in|
Hillary and I are finally out of training and we are officially Peace Corps Volunteers!
We’ve endured eleven weeks of intense language, cultural, and technical sessions, and we are now ready to start work in our permanent site. As you know, it’s been a tough couple of months for us, as we’ve had to mentally and physically transition into this new world, so it was really nice to finally get to the “graduation” point in our program.
Ours is the eighth Peace Corps group to be sent to Azerbaijan, and thus we’re known as the AZ8s. On Thursday, December 9th, all AZ8s came together at the Cultural Palace in Sumqayit to be officially sworn-in as Volunteers. The ceremony included speeches from the Peace Corps country director, training director, and Azeri officials. We had been told that there would be media coverage of the event, but I’m sure none of us were prepared for the dozens of television cameras that were present the entire time. And as luck would have it, we were seated in reverse alphabetical order, so Hillary and I were on the front row. (I even got interviewed by a TV crew who very politely stopped asking me questions when they realized that my Azeri is actually pretty awful!)
It was a great ceremony, with lots of emphasis on our service across the country. We even met up with Hillary’s counterpart as well as the director of my school in Quba, who had traveled the 3-plus hours to be a part of our day. When the event concluded and all the pictures had been taken, I spent a few minutes with some AZ7 Volunteers who assured me that it just gets better from here. Honestly, I can’t wait. Quba, I hope you’re ready!
|Joey and Hillary with our amazing language instructor, Dunya|