Even though Shaun has already provided an update about our first week or so here in Nkongsamba, I thought I would write about our swearing-in ceremony. We, both Shaun and I and all of our fellow stage-mates, were so happy that the day of the ceremony finally came, and we could be real adults again, and head off to our respective posts. We had also all gotten our swearing-in pagne, the whole group traditionally has the same pagne for the big day. Our group decided we would all have the same pattern in one of three different color schemes, we were quite the rainbow during the ceremony!
A group of us started off the morning right and had brunch, Cameroonian style. We splurged and bought a real bottle of vodka (as opposed to the vodka sachets that normally come out of the equivalent of ketchup packets) and I made bloody Mary mix. We took our breakfast cocktails to town and enjoyed them over spaghetti omlettes. It was a great morning, very relaxed and a fun way to celebrate together.
The ceremony was about an hour long. The US Ambassador to Cameroon was there, and he was the one to officially swear us in as volunteers. There were also other speeches made by training staff, our new country director, and some other volunteers in our group. The ceremony itself was nothing too special or out of the ordinary, but it was the implications of the ceremony that we were all so excited about! Finally — Volunteers! The unique part of the ceremony, I thought, is that the oath said by each volunteer is identical, Peace Corps country to Peace Corps Country, since the Peace Corps was created in 1961, it is nice to know that all of the Peace Corps family shares one thing in common, even though our experiences are so different.
After the ceremony, there was big luncheon for us and our host families. It was the last day we had with them, and it was a nice way to end. That night, it is tradition that there is a big party at one of the local hotels in Bafia, and then all of the volunteers spend the night, as we no longer have a curfew!
The next morning, we all headed out, with more stuff than we could carry or move, to go to our posts. The Peace Corps drove a group of us to Bafoussam, the regional capital in the West, and from there, Shaun and I made our own way to Nkongsamba. We depo’ed a car, meaning we paid for every seat in the car (which is 6 seats, plus a driver in a normal 5 seater American car) to take us to our house. Man, how they fit all of our stuff in the car, I don’t even know. There is an interesting bike story, but that is not blog-appropriate, so if you want the details, send me an email! But, we made it.
We are now enjoying the freedoms of being a volunteer; personal space, your own house, being able to cook our own food, and looking forward to starting work this next week. It’s been a long time coming, but our adventure as volunteers has officially begun!