Today was a long time coming. I took the oath of service and officially became a Peace Corps Volunteer, but it didn’t happen until after all kinds of craziness took place today. I woke up early, not really knowing how I was going to get to Krasnaya Rechka, which is usually not a bad walk, but wasn’t quite going to work with my hundred pounds of luggage. Fortunately for me, someone (who I just now realize I don’t know and probably never will) picked up Kuban, Zahara, and me. We hopped on one of three buses shuttling Trainees and host families to Bishkek for the swearing in ceremonies at the Philharmonia. The Philharmonia is a huge building with several halls commonly used for State events.
The ceremony included speeches by the Kyrgyz Minister of Health, the American Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, a Peace Corps representative from Washington, and three (by then) Volunteers in Kyrgyz, Russian, and English. There was a slide show of photos from the last two months of training, a group of trainees did a traditional dance, and we all sang that Kyrgyz Jeri song I wrote about earlier.
After the ceremony we took photos and had snacks. I introduced Kuban and Zahara to Damira Shergazieva, my work counterpart in Kara Suu whom I had met the previous day. And after that it was transfer my bags from the bus to a taxi and good-bye. I’ll see Kuban, Zahara and the rest of the family in six weeks, but it was still tough. Kuban gave me one of his calpaks (the hats) to take with me on my adventures.