One of my favorite memories of my newly ex-place of employment involved an elderly gentleman with a failing brain, but a large heart. Short staffed and slammed on a full moon kind of night, I was particularly flustered as I breezed by him sitting in the hallway. “Hey!” he shouted after me. I turned around, exasperated at the possibility of yet another urgent task, only to see his toothless smile and a wave in response. “Lookin’ good!” he finished. Relief and a bit of guilt washed over me, as I was instantaneously reminded of my purpose as a caregiver, and the power of my own affect on the motivation and success of those around me.
I did my best to carry that reminder with me today as I met a truly inspiring group of people in a schmancy (that’s “Schultz” for fancy…) hotel in downtown Philly. Little did I know, they’d give me another double dose of the same message. Tear stained and puffy from my final good-bye with my proud parents, (Love you, Mom and Dad! Sorry for crying on your panini lunches…) I arrived at registration expecting to be choking back the fear tears all day. But it took all of 10 minutes with my new (and positive-energy-exuding) Peace Corps family to relax and find the excitement in our upcoming adventures. The day was packed with pre-service orientation activities that caused internal roller coasters and a whole herd of butterflies (Ron Burgundy yelling “I’m in a glass case of emotion!!” may have popped in my head a time or two…), but a long dinner afterward filled with giggles and get-to-know you conversation lightened the mood again and set the bar for a mighty fine PC tour.
In an hour I’m boarding a bus with these ambitious folks, heading to an airport in NYC, and boarding a plane that will take us to Lesotho for the next two years of our lives. Today we got a glimpse of what our new home may be like, but we’re anxious and eager to see it all for ourselves. While I have a ton to learn about my fellow PC volunteers and our duties together overseas, the biggest thing I took away from pre-service staging was the introduction to my family away from family, and the necessity to support each other, make each other feel known in a place unknown, and give each other those “Lookin’ good!”s when we may need it most.
Missing you all already! Talk to you (from the other side of the world!!!) soon 🙂
Much love and hugs,