As I have been preparing for my departure to Swaziland, I have been asked many questions about my future with the Peace Corps. I will provide below many of these questions and their answers so that you too can know what will happen over the next 27 months.
Where is Swaziland?
It is a small country in southern Africa bordering South Africa and Mozambique.
How long will you be there?
My service includes three months of training and 24 months at my permanent site.
Where will you be living?
For training, I will be living in a small community outside the capitol Mbabane. I do not know where I will be moving to.
What are your living accommodations?
I will be living in a one- or two-room building on a family compound. I will have a lockable door and an outhouse. My training family will provide a bed.
What happens during training?
We will have daily language lessons and then sessions on everything else we will need to know (health, travel, safety, program planning, etc.).
What will be your work assignment?
Our first assignment at our permanent site is to complete a needs assessment. This will determine what the community wants and needs. Projects should be based off these results.
What are you packing? How much room do you have?
As I have not yet packed (yes, I leave in 24 hours), I cannot answer. Suffice to say, my living room floor is covered in items I would like to take. I have to contain my checked bags to 50 pounds each. This will be hard. I am not worried about space.
What do the next couple days look like?
The group is meeting in Philadelphia for an afternoon training before heading to JFK to fly to Johannesburg. Then, we will take a bus to Swaziland. We will stay at a training facility for almost a week before moving in with our training family. There will be lots of learning and studying for a few tests that need to be passed to be sworn in as a full Peace Corps Volunteer at the end of August.
How big is the group?
There are usually about 40 people in a Swaziland training class. There are around 100 Volunteers already working in country.
Can you come home? Do you get vacation?
Yes, I can. Will I come home? Probably not. There are too many sights to see. I will accrue 42 days of vacation time.
What can we send you?
I made a list here: Mail and Visits. It explains everything you need to know about sending me mail or a package, including my address.
How will you be able to communicate?
Most internet access will be via phone through a pay-as-you-go data plan. Data is expensive. There’s an app called WhatsApp that will save me money on texting, so we can communicate with it. We can also be pen pals and write each other letters.
What is the food like?
I cannot say for sure until I have tried it, but the main food is pap, a corn porridge. I will let you know how it is soon.
Will your host family cook for you?
Our training family will cook for us for the first three weeks. Then we will be on our own. I anticipate other arrangements could be made with the family if desired.
What are you looking forward to?
Learning how to properly cut a mango. Also, learning siSwati, making friends, and sharing knowledge back and forth with the locals.
What am I worried about?
Being served chicken feet at my first meal with my training family. (I would happily accept a goat liver as the unusual organ or body part offered.) And what if my families and community do not like me?
Where do you want to travel?
If there are elephants, I will go. Fortunately, I should not have to go too far.
You look so calm and sound excited. How are you keeping it together?
I know this is the next step in my life and I very deeply want to succeed. It’s my last day in Utah today. Today will be hard.
Please let me know if you have any other questions!