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4/29/09 Welcome, New Environment and Health PCVs!

The new crop of Environment and Health PCVs is swearing in today. Exciting!!

I remember swearing-in. There was the ceremony itself, of course, and the partying afterwards, but what left a much deeper impression was the core-deep realization that I Am A Peace Corps Volunteer. 11 weeks as a Peace Corps Trainee is nothing to sneeze at, but actual PCV status left me almost dizzy with a blend of pride and humility.

This also means that I'm a just about year into my service. (Not exactly a year, yet, because they've rearranged stage; now there's 8 weeks of language and culture training, followed by the three months of homestay and integration, and then another two weeks of technical training. We got 11 weeks of language, culture, and technical training, all up-front.)

Because the four sectors of Peace Corps / Morocco are staggered in six-month intervals (Health and Environment PCVs arrive in March, but YD and SBD PCVs come in September), we've adopted the high school designations of Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior to break up our two years of service.

The "newbies" - the freshly sworn-in Volunteers - are the Freshmen. The YD and SBD folks who swore in six months ago are now Sophomores. My cohort just became Juniors, and the YD and SBD volunteers who will leave in the autumn are now Seniors.

I remember Junior Year - both in high school and in college - as the year when I felt most comfortable, most on-top-of-my-game, most king-of-the-hill. As a Senior, I was more focused on the work, whether AP courses or my thesis, as well as thoughts of the future. Senior year was more about *me*; Junior year, I was more about the *school*.

Translating that into Peace Corps terms, I feel like it's time to step up as a PCV and take on more of a leadership role. I no longer get to ride the coattails of the "Second-Years," the Environment and Health PCVs who swore in a year ahead of me, and who will COS in a few weeks. (Which, by the way, is very sad. They're all happy as clams about moving into the next phase of their lives, going back to the US, etc, but I'm looking at losing half a dozen of my best friends.)

Of course, this is all part of the life cycle of the PCV. Arriving, learning, growing, changing, broadening, leading...and leaving.

The newbies are just starting this grand adventure; the "Second-Years" are about to finish it. I'm standing at the halfway point, with interesting paths leading in dozens of directions.

Which, come to think of it, is not a bad place to be. :)

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