The application process for getting accepted into the Peace Corps is not for the faint of heart. I wrote a lot about my process and the “why” of my service right over here. You write statements, seek recommendations, scour the internet for tips, finally get an interview request, scour the internet some more, interview, and wait. Then you finally accept an invitation, which is exciting for approximately two days. Until you realize applying was the easy part.

You spend MONTHS, and I do mean that literally – working on paperwork, deadlines, clearances, and medical test results. So when it was finally time to get on that plane to San Francisco and meet my co-volunteers for staging, it felt surreal.

What is staging? Prior to going through it, I thought it would be a whole lot of paperwork and get to know you games. The reality isn’t so far off, but instead of paperwork it was a chance to go over some incredibly thought provoking ideas and concepts intended to help us have a successful Pre-Service Training and service. Peace Corps Thailand Invitees took San Francisco by storm and all 68 of us finally met for two days of prep.

We started with the why. Why Peace Corps? I’ll let JFK explain:

Once we were feeling all warm and fuzzy about our decision to join this inspiring group of PCV’s – we got to dig into so many more amazing topics. We talked about our aspirations and our anxieties, about the PC mission and it’s Core Expectations. We talked about handling safety and security and integrating well into communities foreign to us. Then we spent hours discussing and interacting over concepts like diversity, inter-cultural exchange, gender, race, personality, and perhaps most importantly, the importance of avoiding judging people when you only know a single story.

If you haven’t watched it before, I strongly encourage you to take a few moments and watch a TED Talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. *And if you haven’t read Americanah, also do that*

What she talks about in her TED talk is what we should all be aware of. Every single day. Our lives are often lived in bubbles, and if we never get outside of that bubble, we’ll never learn about all of things we don’t know.

Staging is such an appropriate title for the two days we spent in San Francisco prepping for this experience, because it adequately set the stage for this journey. It gave us some tools, reminded us what it is we’re stepping into, and offered us a chance to get to know the cast of this story we’ll be in together. I can’t wait to share the rest of the story with you.

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