Here I am in Washington DC, staying blocks from the Capitol for the English Language Fellow Pre-Departure Orientation. I arrived yesterday after packing all my belongings for storage (minus 3 very heavy bags and 2 carry ons), several goodbye parties, and many tears and prayers of blessing. I feel extremely blessed to have friends, family and co-workers like you all. I feel so loved and encouraged--THANK YOU!!
This evening I walked to the Capitol with Sharon, another Fellow headed to Tajikistan. When I arrived yesterday, I found out there are 3 of us going there instead of just 2! Suzanne was just hired last week and she will also be working in Dushanbe, but with a slightly different program. I'm excited to already know another person who will be in the same city! She will be going to Tajikistan in September, giving her only a month to get everything ready. I'm the only one here I've met so far who is leaving directly from orientation (since I opted to spend a few days vacationing in Turkey). Leaving right from orientation is mixed: on the one hand, I'm done with all the preparations others are still in the middle of; on the other, there may be information that could have been helpful in packing, like the teaching materials that should be already available at the Embassy.
The days are full of sessions with lots of information and more acronyms that I can keep track of. It's been helpful to talk with people who are going to the same regions and share information. At times I feel like my brain is going to explode! It's been very interesting to meet this group of people who are going to almost any country you can think of outside Western Europe: the Central Asian "stans," East Timor, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa... an amazing group of people--different ages and levels of experience in teaching English. If you want to hang out in a place where people love geography, languages, cultures and teaching, this is it! OK, I'd better get some sleep before another big day tomorrow. If I'm ambitious in the morning, I may get up and go running on the National Mall.