This was a slightly new situation for me. The only other time I’ve experienced it was the brief period between when I arrived at the Crown Plaza hotel in Los Angeles for staging and the time our first scheduled session began in the hotel’s conference room: intuitively guessing which random faces in the crowd are Peace Corps trainees. Back in LA, I remember waiting for an elevator next to a short blonde girl, attempting to discern her volunteer-ness through a myriad of indefinable visual cues (Incidentally, the girl at the elevator went to Tonga.).
Picking through travelers at the airport this morning was both easier and more difficult. At least half the passengers on the Air New Zealand flight from Los Angeles were Samoans, and since Peace Corps tends to not send volunteers to countries where they have family, they could be ruled out. But I feel like within the remaining group it was difficult to delineate the Peace Corps Trainees from the German tourists from the American travelers from the Kiwi travelers laying over , etc.
Does she look like she could grow to enjoy cold showers and bug spray? What would his legs look like covered in mosquito bites? Can I see this person “scraggly”? Could this person wear the same t-shirt for an entire week? It’s seemingly impossible to define criteria to answer these questions, but some people seem to look more the part than others.
Some were easier than others. The kid with the curly hair, the girl with the aviator prescription glasses, a couple girls I recognized from their blogs—these were obvious. But a few faces slipped into the crowd and had to be ushered back toward the herd.
The first person out was Nancy, who has emailed Blakey and me several times. Blakey and I recognized her immediately. Interim Training Director Jamie turned to me and asked, “Who’s that?” I think not expecting to hear it was a Trainee.
“That’s Nancy,” I said.
“Nancy who?” She asked.
I rattled off her last name. Jamie was surprised.
“How do you know that?!”
I shrugged. “The Internet.”
I hope you’re well. Pictures below.
Group 83 on the bus to Apia.
Danny and Chris 83. Apparently Danny's mom frequents the blog. Hello, Danny's Mom!
Blakey and AJ await the morning's 'Ava Ceremony. Blakey was taupo this morning, and in this photo she is already in costume.
Me, Blakey, and AJ at the 'Ava Ceremony.
Jenny 83 drinking the 'ava flanked by Rachael and Chelsea 83. Jenny's mom also reads the blog. Hello, Jenny's Mom!
A bunch of group 83, as well as a bunch of group 81 and Ally 82, stuck around after the ceremony to finish the 'ava.