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Setting Class Rules

Hello world,

Setting rules can sometimes seem difficult and enforcing them can feel even more challenging. As a new teacher, I struggled with crafting rules, managing my classes, being consistent, and if I’m being honest, many, many other aspects of the role. During my first year of teaching, I worked with the same two classes and had multiple subjects with them. I was fortunate because I was able to nurture better relationships and meet each students’ individual needs. They were naturally well behaved and patient as I figured out my teaching style. The next year, I moved to another school where I taught five different Grade 8 classes that each had 50 students in them and their ages ranged from 13 – 21*. I learned quickly that if I didn’t develop a good classroom management plan and put energy into implementing it at the beginning of the school year, I would be faced to deal with students misbehaving and a disruptive class.

This article outlines the criteria I use to create rules and the methods in which I implement them. As teachers, we hold an extremely important role of establishing rules and enforcing them consistently in order to maintain an environment that is enjoyable, safe, and conducive for learning. To construct the perfect set of rules, I suggest starting with a short list of rules and then leading a discussion about whether they should stay the same or if they can be adapted or expanded to best fit the individuality of each class. With all of that said, let’s get started. I’ve included my example set of rules, but really it’s up to you to figure out what will work best for you and your class.

CRITERIA FOR RULES 

  1. They should be simple. Your students should be able to understand what they mean without having much explanation.
  2. They should be clear. If there is any ambiguity, uncertainty, or grey area about what a rule means or what behavior it is referring to, this can lead to arguments, friction, and misunderstandings.
  3. They should be visible. Print the rules and consequences and put them in a place where they can be seen and referenced.
  4. Finally, they should be behavior focused. Having rules that are focused on behavior makes it achievable to fix the misbehavior. Having a rule like “turn in homework on time” is more of an academic expectation and should be included in procedures for what happens if a student is absent or needs more time to complete the assignment. Rules should focus more on what will make your classroom a safe environment that promotes learning.

When I introduce a set of rules, I write them on the board and follow it with a class discussion about what kind of environment we want and if these rules help accomplish that. I might phrase the question like “What do you need from your classmates (and me) to learn best?” Having discussions about their environment and rules allow for students to reflect, feel motivated to follow the rules, and create a sense of ownership since they took part in their development. This is a really good time to ask for examples of what following the rules and breaking the rules look like. It should be encouraged for students to ask clarifying questions to ensure they understand what is expected of them.

MY LIST OF RULES 

  1. Respect teachers, peers, and their things.
  2. Listen and follow directions quickly.
  3. Keep your hands to yourself.
  4. Laugh with others, but never at them.
  5. Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated. Go a step further with the Platinum Rule: Treat others how they want to be treated.

**Rule 5 is mostly a best practices rule. I want my students to be reminded to make a conscious effort to think about others and develop empathy, which is a by-product of practicing the rules.

After we have agreed on a set of rules, I have students help decide what the consequences should be if a rule is broken. Remember, the rules and consequences should be delivered in a positive manner because they’re supposed to help us maintain a positive space. We are no longer able to feel safe, have fun, or learn if we aren’t abiding by the rules we all agreed on.

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES

1st Time: Warning

Having a laminated class roster and making a tally mark next to the student’s name will help you keep track of who has been given a warning and what phase (of the consequences) they are in. This is meant just for you so I wouldn’t recommend hanging it up. The point of it is for you to manage your class, not humiliate them. Plus, you could hang a sticker chart that rewards positive behavior, which is a way to celebrate accomplishments. When I’m giving a warning and don’t want to disrupt my teaching, I usually give a yellow card (laminate these as well).

2nd Time: Time-Out

It’s important to note that time-out should not be done in a way that humiliates the student. Based off a lot of research, kids should typically have a minimum of fifteen minutes in time-out to calm their emotions, reflect on misbehavior, feel remorseful, and accept responsibility. Time-out is about giving them some space to reflect and think—set aside a desk or two with the purpose of creating separation for that to happen. It’s also supposed to foster introspection and motivate a student to improve and not repeat the same behavior. A student might not be ready at the fifteen-minute mark and that is okay. When a student does feel ready to go back to his/her/their seat, they can raise their hand and I will go to them at my next available moment. Then it’s on them to convince me that they understand what rule they broke and are remorseful, not just trying to appease me. I recommend not sending students outside the classroom for many reasons, 1) they miss instruction, 2) you can’t monitor them, and 3) some students use it as free time, so there is a lack of accountability.

3rd Time: Letter home & time-out for every time they misbehave

Draw up a simple note that you can use to send parents when a student has reached the third consequence. Try not to include emotions, just facts. It should be short and to the point. To ensure that the parent(s) or guardian(s) received the note, I require my students to bring back the note signed. This may not work in every school environment, especially if you are a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher. For example, a school where the students live in the hostel won’t be conducive for this.

Obviously there are many different classroom management plans and methods, but this seemed to be the most simple and effective set of rules and consequences that have worked for me along with good routines, procedures, and positive reinforcement systems. Rules and consequences are just a fraction of a good and effective classroom management plan. Routines and procedures will need practice. You’ll need to continue to build relationships and rapport. With all of the things you implement, try to be thoughtful and consistent as possible.

Thank you for reading my blog and I really hope that it is helpful.

Wishing you the best, wherever you are.

Always,

Grace.

 

*In Namibia, there are many reasons why there would be such a large age range for students in classes here. I’ve had learners who have had to take a break from school and when they come back, they resumed where they left off. A specific example is one of my students needing to take time off because he had to take care of his family’s cattle. Another possible reason is that they didn’t pass one of their required classes and needed to repeat the grade. It’s just important that you don’t make assumptions as a teacher and meet them where they’re at.

Five Tips for the First Day of School

Hello world,

As a new teacher (especially TEFL educators), the first day of school can be pretty daunting. I had no idea what to do, but my biggest words of advice now are 1) be ready to actively learn through experience, 2) be patient with yourself and your students as you go through this together, and 3) whatever you do, try to be consistent. If there are hiccups, let them inform your teaching moving forward. Maybe you come to find that the attention getter or hand signal you were trying to implement didn’t work in a class. Maybe it takes a little longer for students to get that routine or procedure down for turning in papers. Whatever it is, keep going forward, reflect as you do, and celebrate the little successes. With all that said, here are my tips to help make the first day(s) of school something you and your kids can look forward to.

Greet and get to know each other.

Make sure when you introduce yourself; say your name and have it written on the board. It’s good practice for you to ensure that you’re teaching to multiple learning styles and it will help your students learn your name right away. One of the most important things that you can do on the first day is really take time to get to know your students. It will show that you value them and that they are important. This sets the tone for the rest of the year and creates a sense of community. As a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher in Namibia, I had to learn that In Namibia, there is a specific way to greet students; observing these practices and asking questions to colleagues will be really helpful wherever you are teaching.

Start establishing rules, routines, and procedures.

Do this the first day! For many new teachers, they focus on what to do once a student has broken a rule or disrupted class, but having routines and procedures set, helps prevent kids from going off course. Make sure you are consistent with the structure of class so your students will understand what’s expected of them (get creative in your activities, not your structure). Be concise and clear when communicating with your students. Practice how you’re going to give instructions, how they should write the activity or notes in their notebooks, etc. By practicing, you’ll be able to be more concise and eliminate extra unnecessary words. With rules, I like to have some key rules and then get the kids involved in developing a few more. The shorter the list, the easier it is for them to remember, but involving them in the process creates buy in, a sense community, and ownership of their class. The rules should be posted in the classroom where students can reference them throughout the year. Present the most important classroom routines and procedures the first day, and you can teach the others as they come up naturally during class. Allow for students to practice; it’ll take time and sometimes longer than we might have hoped for. Again, be clear when giving instructions and hopefully it’ll eliminate some of the confusion. Having the agenda visible can also help so students know where they are in the lesson and how much more work is intended.

Reinforce positive behaviors.

I really love using positive narration and affirmations. It reminds students what behaviors I am looking for and most of the time they’ll self-correct so I don’t have to correct them. It also makes the learning environment feel safer for learning and a place where students actually want to be. This doesn’t mean you don’t correct behavioral problems, but it is supposed to help.

Be prepared, keep it short, and be patient.

You want to be prepared for the day. Write out a guideline with what you want to cover. It doesn’t need to necessary be followed exactly or even completed, but it is nice to have a general idea of what comes next. Try not to create an elaborate lesson the first day. Create a space where students also have the opportunity to talk. This can be done through icebreakers or activities. By giving them the time to share, shows that you value what they have to say and starts normalizing speaking in class (in a structured manner). There’s a lot going on this day, so keeping things short and simple will help prevent overwhelming them. You may not get through your entire lesson, but it’s only the first day, which brings me to my last point.

Make the day fun.

This is the first time you all are meeting! The first day isn’t just about running through the rules, routines, and procedures; it’s supposed to be time to get to know your students! Find activities that are fun and educational. You don’t need to rush through everything. You have an entire year, but only a limited amount of time to create initial rapport with your kids. Make it a day that is memorable and want to tell their parent(s)/guardian about.

I hope these tips help you on your first day! If you are looking for more posts about teaching, click here. If this was helpful for your first day or you have any comments/questions, please leave a comment below. Best of luck teachers and have an amazing year!

Always,

Grace.

Note to readers…

Hello world,

I haven’t been very good at keeping up with my blog. I wanted to use it as a platform to share my experience, but it ended up becoming a source of anxiety. Before joining Peace Corps, I was told I would have so much free time and I’d have so many opportunities to get in touch with myself, reflect, do whatever it is people do when they have a lot of free time while going off the grid. I didn’t realise that everyone’s experiences in Peace Corps are different and we get to choose how we use our time and what we invest our energy in. So once I arrived at site and started getting involved in projects, I began to feel overwhelmed with my responsibilities and the unwavering mentality that I was failing to keep up with everything on my plate thus resulting in my own personal failure as a person and Volunteer. The blog I created specifically to share my experiences and use as a creative outlet became another stressor, which I quickly put on the back burner.

We waited two hours for our bus to get a new tire. Just an example of wanting things to go one way and having to actively change my mindset about some of the situations I find myself in.

Although it has been a long time since I’ve written and I’m closer to the end of my service than the beginning, I would like to start sharing my experiences and stories. I have learned so much since I arrived in Namibia back in August 2017. I have accomplished more than I thought would be possible. I have changed for the better in many ways. My life feels richer and fuller and I want to share all of it with you. I hope to do this in an authentic and open way, while best representing the United States, Namibia, and myself. I may have experienced many challenges here, but I don’t want to give the impression that my time in Namibia has been anything less than remarkable and life changing.

Thank you for continuing to visit my blog and I hope to share my Peace Corps story with you over the last few months of my service. I love hearing from anyone who takes the time to look at my blog and I appreciate having human interactions that I otherwise wouldn’t have. If you have any questions or just want to have a conversation, leave comments, email me, send me DMs on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you.

Sending love and positivity to you, wherever you are.

Always,

Grace.

My Ideal Packing List for Peace Corps Namibia

Hi everyone,

This post is to give suggestions for those who have been accepted into Peace Corps Namibia and are beginning to pack for service here.

There are some things I wish I had known before coming to Namibia. First, you can buy just about everything you need  here, such as: shampoo and conditioner (Treseme, Pantene, John Frieda are some examples), contact solution (Opti Free, Renu, Biotrue, and Clean Care), Q-tips, clothes (especially in Windhoek and other towns), etc. Also, in regards to anything medical, you can get most things from PCMO, like sunscreen (not waterproof), floss, condoms, mosquito repellant, chapstick, bandaids, vitamins, etc.  Also, the water here is pretty okay to drink, but Peace Corps still provides water filters and iodine tablets (useful if you are hiking Fish River). They also provide a mosquito net and a green trunk that can be locked. You can get everything you really need here or sent in a care package later, so don’t stress about forgetting something.

Luggage & Travel Items: 

  • 2 Rolling Suitcases
  • 65 L Backpack – I was able to use this for my carry-on, but for South African Airlines, the weight limit for a carry-on is 18 Ib. I would recommend getting a large backpack for traveling; it makes life so much easier.
  • 1 Crossbody bag
  • North Face Jester Backpack
  • REI Compressible Sleeping Bag – I highly suggest bringing a sleeping bag that is compressible– it’s easier to travel with and I actually use it pretty frequently when I stay with other volunteers or at night when it gets cold.
  • Sleeping Pad – Helpful for when you visit other volunteers or go camping.
  • Microfibre Towel
  • Neck Pillow

Clothing: 

  • 2 pairs of black work pants and 1 pair of navy
  • 2 Pairs of Jeans
  • 1 Pair of Flowy Pants
  • 2 Pairs of Leggings
  • 1 Maxi Skirt
  • 2 Pencil Skirts (my favourite skirts are from Mr Price here)
  • 1 Pair of Yoga Pants
  • 1 Sweat Shirt or Fleece
  • 3 Cardigans
  • 3 Sweaters
  • 2 Long sleeves
  • 1 Maxi Dress
  • 1 Business Dress
  • 2 Casual Dresses
  • 1 Military Green Cargo Jacket
  • 1 Rain Coat
  • Lightweight Insulated Jacket – It is cold during winter and it’s awesome if you visit Swakop.
  • 4 Tank Tops (I bought more at Mr Price and Cotton On)
  • ~ 10 Shirts that can be worn casually and for work
  • 2 Scarves
  • 4 Bras
  • 2 Sports Bras
  • ~25 Pairs of Underwear
  • 1 Baseball Hat
  • 1 Beanie
  • 1 Necklace
  • 8 Pairs of Earrings (Purchased some at Nam Craft and in Cape Town)
  • 1 Watch – I wear this everyday to keep track of time during class
  • 1 Pair of Chacos 
  • 1 Pair of Burkenstocks 
  • Shower Flip Flops
  • 1 Pair of Running Shoes
  • 1 Pair of Ballet Flats (I’ve purchased two more pairs at Cotton On and Mr Price)
  • 1 Pair of Vans

Electronics: 

Toiletries (Just my favourites):

Miscellaneous: 

  • Tea Tree Oil – Not something you would typically think of, but I was placed somewhere with bed bugs and it was the only thing that helped. I made a solution of ~20 drops of tea tree oil and water in a spray bottle and sprayed my sheets, comforter, bed frame, and then I would put tea tree oil in my lotion so they wouldn’t bite me. (Oils can be purchased in country though)
  • Hammock – I’d never used a hammock before Peace Corps, but it is amazing when you want to relax… especially, when you are exhausted and have breaks at camps.
  • Insulated Bag & Ice Packs – After grocery shopping, it takes about an hour to get a hike to my village and then 2+ hours traveling back to village, so having the ability to transport my groceries without them completely defrosting is helpful. (Could be sent in a care package)
  • Hydro Flask Water Bottle – Amazing when you want cold water in the summer.
  • Travel Cutlery
  • Nalgene
  • Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Mug – Amazing when you want coffee as you walk to school. (** This ended up leaking a few months into service, so I had someone send me a Klean Kanteen that has been great)
  • Ziploc bags
  • 1 Umbrella
  • 2 Books (1984 and The Alchemist) and Journal/Notebooks – I like pretty nice journals and notebooks, but they’re really hard to find here. I ended up getting about 3 in Cape Town.
  • Office Supplies – My favourite pens and pencils. Markers and coloured pencils for my learners.
  • PICTURES! My sister sent me a Photo Frame for them and it made site feel homey, but you can also print in country.
  • Tapestry – You know, homeyness.
  • Kitchen Knives from Target (3)
  • Packing Tape
  • String – Helpful for putting up mosquito nets and various other reasons.

Snacks:

  • Cliff bars, M&Ms, Beef Jerky, and Reeses – I think the reason for these is pretty obvious.

Gifts for Host Families: 

  • You’ll need gifts for your families during PST and CBT! I brought my polaroid and took pictures with my families to give them. I brought chocolates and many items with San Francisco on them.

 

This is everything I can think of, but of course, there are items on the list that might be missing or not necessary for everyone.

Hope this helps with packing and as always, feel free to reach out whether it is through my blog or social media. Happy packing!

10 Things You Need to Know About Doing PC in Namibia

I arrived in Namibia during mid-August and have learned so much in the short amount of time I have lived here. I have completed my training, become an official volunteer, moved to site, and began teaching.

Here’s a list of a few things I have picked up along the way:

  1. You must greet everyone! Namibians actually stop to say hello and greet one another rather than just casually smiling and waving. If you greet in the local language, many people will just be impressed that you are trying to learn their language. This will help with integrating with your colleagues and at site.
  2. You will eat a lot of meat and carbs. No meal is complete without meat and a salad will almost always have mayo and sugar in it. For anyone living in the region of Kavango, fish and pap is a favourite and will become yours.
  3. Training will sometimes be exhausting and overwhelming—trust me, you’ll make it! There’s always teatime and many things to look forward to, which will make it easier to get through each day. Once you get to Phase Two or site, you’ll have some more free time to develop your addiction to cool drink (soda) and spend a lot of time with your external hard drive.
  4. The term “hiking” has two meanings here. It is often used to describe how people get around in Namibia. In many of the towns or Windhoek (the only actual city in Namibia), there are designated hike points where you find a group of people to carpool with, think of it almost like Uber Pool. When leaving my village, I have to go out to the tar road and wave down a car to catch a ride. Sounds pretty scary, but it is very much engrained in the culture since not everyone has a car and is the only way to get around.
  5. Be prepared for the cold and the heat. It gets pretty chilly in the winter and summers will be ridiculously hot. Tip: you can soak a shirt, put it in your freezer, and then wear it front of your fan OR sleep with a frozen water bottle. You’re welcome.
  6. You’ll learn how to deal with critters. I have encountered snakes, a spider the size of my hand, and scorpions at site. Be prepared to either cohabitate, run (unless it’s a black mamba), or kill it.
  7. You will learn patience, flexibility, and accept that you probably have no idea what is happening. These skills will carry you through training and service. Plans will change quicker than you can actually make them. You will learn the difference between “now” that could mean minutes or hours later and “now now,” which actually means now… or now-ish. I say, “everything is fine. I am fine, ” a few times a week and you will learn how to work with whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
  8. Don’t stress packing. You’ll be able to buy a lot of things here and have a few things sent to you in packages, so don’t worry too much about leaving a few things behind.
  9. Get out of your comfort zone. Ask questions and keep an open mind. Try things you normally would not do. There’s a lot to learn and experience here! The different cultures and languages you’ll experience may challenge you in many ways, but you’ll learn what it really means to integrate and live in a way that goes beyond what you are used to.
  10. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is challenging and rewarding. Honestly, you probably won’t be able to imagine everything you will experience here until you get here. There is so much change you have to adapt to and then so many small challenges that you can experience (possibly all at once)—it can all become a little overwhelming. However, there are so many good things. You’ll meet amazing people, travel, work on so many secondary projects, focus on your primary project, and develop relationships with your learners (for education volunteers).

Exciting news! After being in Namibia for over five months, I finally moved into my home! I’ll make sure to post about my traditional house soon! Sorry for not posting more often! I wish I could post weekly, but my village doesn’t get very good network and any place with WiFi is a 2-5 hour “hike” away. For those who are waiting for their interviews or invites, good luck! Hope to see you in Namibia!

This blog does not reflect the views of and is not associated with Peace Corps, any of its staff or volunteers, or the United States Government. 

The Life of a Peace Corps Trainee

For those of you who are applying to Peace Corps and being considered for Namibia in the education sector, this is what a typical day of training looked like for my group. During training, you will learn an incredible amount of material related to culture, language, and how to be a teacher in Namibia. I hope this helps give people an idea of what to expect and alleviates any fears for those who might be nervous about not having much experience– trust me, you will learn or figure it out along the way!

Pre-service Training: August 16-September 15, October 6-19

5:30 – Wakeup, get dressed, eat breakfast, do last minute language review
6:50 – Walk to pick up point
7:00 – Head to training center
7:20 – Arrive at center. On MWF, we begin at 7:30 for morning assembly and then singing. On TThSat, we begin at 8:00 so we have some free time for coffee, hanging out, studying, etc.
8:00-10:00 – Language Training
10:00-10:30 – Tea Time!
10:30-12:30 – Technical sessions covering various topics such as culture, history, classroom management, teaching methods, medical, etc.
12:30-1:30 – Lunch
1:30-3:00 – more technical sessions
3:00-3:15 – Break
3:15-4:30 – Technical
4:30-5:30 – On TTh, there is free time to hangout, exchange TV shows and movies, etc.
4:30/5:30-end of day – Head home for dinner with host family, studying, and sleeping

Community Based Training: September 15-October 6

4:20 – Wakeup, make breakfast, prepare last-minute teaching materials
6:00 – Pick up time
6:30 – Get to school and begin training
7:00-12:00 – Observe (Week 1), Co-teach (Week 2), Teach (Week 3) at least nine periods per week
12:00-1:00 – Lunch break for consulting with teachers, going over observations, and reviewing how co-teaching/teaching went
1:00-4:00 – Technical training
4:00 – Leave school and either head to the shopping center or to my host-family’s house. Rest of the night consists of bonding with family, cooking, watching movies or TV, marking, lesson planning, and lots of sleeping.

Good luck to the next group of applicants! Hope to see you in Namibia!

** I would like to note that the training for Education Volunteers has changed since I went through training and may not be what new trainees experience

This blog does not reflect the views of and is not associated with Peace Corps, any of its staff or volunteers, or the United States Government. 

The Peace Corps Interview

Congratulations! If you are reading this, you have probably made it to the interview process of the Peace Corps. You most likely have waited a few months to get to this point and it is all very exciting, but a little daunting at the same time. That is normal. Although I have many friends who “winged” their interviews, I prepared a lot– I get nervous, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t stumbling through and being prepared takes some of the stress off. Below are tips that will hopefully prepare you for this next step and some questions I was asked (maybe worded a little differently).

List of Tips

  1. Be professional and look the part. It will most likely be over webcam, dress as if you were going to any other job interview. You’ll have to dress in business attire during Peace Corps Training, so if you can’t dress appropriately for the interview, will you actually be able to dress professionally if you get through? Plus, looking nice will give you a boost of confidence and help you act in a professional manner.
  2. Do some research. Here’s a short version of the notes I prepared (Peace Corps Interview Notes). You should have an idea of the Core Expectations, the position you applied for (should be in the email they sent you, this was mine Namibia Project Description), and knowledge about the country you are being considered for. This is the time to impress them! Show that you took initiative and are serious about this position. Read lots of blogs, watch videos, know a little bit about the culture.
  3. Go over some of the questions. I wanted to make sure  I had specific examples of experiences that I could use in my answers and then elaborate on. I also tried to connect those experiences to the Core Expectations or anything else Peace Corps.
  4. Be early and take a breath. The interview is Eastern Standard Time, so keep that in mind when scheduling your interview. Also, I would sign on early to make sure nothing goes wrong, you have time to relax, and then you don’t want to make the interviewer wait for you.
  5. Be yourself! They genuinely want to know why you are passionate about Peace Corps. Be honest, no matter how cheesy you may sound.
  6. Ask questions. You can ask general questions, but if you are able to ask a few more specific questions, it shows you took the time to think about them. An example of a question I had was, “What secondary projects did you work on? How did you come up with them?” Most Returned Peace Corps Volunteers don’t mind being a resource of knowledge for you and sharing their experiences. Plus, it may make you more memorable, which couldn’t hurt.

List of Questions

Section 1

  1. Why do you want to join the Peace Corps?
  2. Why do you want to serve in the education sector?
  3. Why do you want to serve in (country)?
  4. Would you be willing to serve in other parts of the world and sectors?
  5. If so, what countries of sectors?

Section 2

  1. Tell me about a time you had to adapt to living or working with people from another culture? Have you stayed in touch or visited them?
  2. Tell me about the most meaningful situation you have experienced helping others. What motived you?
  3. Tell me about the most challenging experience you’ve had working on a team.
  4. Tell me about a time when you were able to transfer knowledge or skills to others. Walk me through your lesson plan. What challenges did you face?
  5. Tell me a challenge you with little support.
  6. Tell me about a stressful time in your life. How did you cope?

Section 3

  1. Topics covered: Exposure to different foods, health issues, possibility of living without electricity and/or water, less privacy, geographic isolation, gender roles, minority challenges, lack of access to your religion, alcohol, and maybe even ask about any relationships (Are you ready to be away from them?).
  2. Do you have any questions for the Interviewer?

Good luck with your Peace Corps interview! I believe in you!

 

This blog does not reflect the views of and is not associated with Peace Corps, any of its staff or volunteers, or the United States Government. 

Next Stop: Staging and Namibia

After months of medical appointments, dozens of Amazon packages, hours spent packing, and last minute trips to Target; I was finally about to begin my Peace Corps journey. I left my house at three in the morning to catch my six O’clock flight to Phoenix and then to Philly. I was accompanied to the airport by my best friend, sister, and parents. We said our goodbyes, cried a lot, and made many people uncomfortable—truly a great start to any adventure.

After flying across the country, I touched down in Philly and found a few other people at baggage claim who also looked like they had packed for the next two years. We arrived at the hotel, dropped our bags in our pre-assigned rooms, and then headed to registration.

Once everyone had checked-in, forty-six people congregated into a conference room where we played a quick ice breaker followed by a few announcements. Eventually, we were dismissed for dinner where we proceeded to walk around in circles looking for a good place to eat. There were about fifteen of us seated in the middle of a restaurant with multiple conversations happening all at once and lots of laughter.

The next day was a blur of ice breakers, acting out scenarios, group work, and going through polices, procedures, and core expectations. Our day of training was followed by a quick trip to the Liberty Bell and lots of pizza—I was committed to indulging in my favorite foods before our final flight to Namibia. Once we were finished with dinner, we headed back to the hotel where many of us, including myself, decided to stay up since checkout was promptly at two in the morning.

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We divided into groups, boarded two different buses, and eventually arrived at JFK around five. We planted our large group in the middle of the airport waiting until we could actually check-in. Some people slept. Some conversed. I was one of the people who was still trying to get my luggage to meet the weight requirements. A few hours later, we made it to our gate where we waited some more, and then boarded our fifteen-hour flight to Johannesburg. Once we landed, we began our six-hour layover, which allowed us to eat, grab coffee, and get dressed into our business casual clothing. The next flight was a breeze and before we knew it, we were already in Namibia. We waited to get through customs, turned in our WHO cards to PC staff on the other side, and then grabbed our luggage. We were then welcomed outside by Resource Volunteers and staff—given cool drink (soda) and a fat cake. We had finally arrived in the Land of the Brave.

This blog does not reflect the views of and is not associated with Peace Corps, any of its staff or volunteers, or the United States Government.