Well, it's nearly time. Here's a copy of the letter than I sent to my friends & family, because I don't feel like doing another version:
Hello from Indiana (although not for long)!
The bags are (almost) packed and I've eaten more ice cream in the last two weeks than you can imagine. There was a Harry Potter marathon with my best friend and her family (including a sneak preview screening of the latest movie); an insane trip to Cleveland for a concert, sojourns to see family & friends in Arizona, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington DC; a stamp show; and a whole lot of shopping! After five weeks, I even finally managed to adjust enough to be nice strangers who wanted to strike up a conversation (a weird American tendency).
But, now it's time to go. I've had a lot of conflicting feelings over this assignment, but have kind of come to terms with it. I do think I've been given an exciting chance to do interesting work in a fascinating country. For the record, that's NGO Capacity Building (working with little non-profit organisations (as we say in the US) to help them be more effective) in the Republic of South Africa. I don't know who I'll be working with or where in the country and won't for at least another month.
South Africa Group 16 (as we're called) will leave the US on July 19 and arrive in Johannesburg on July 21, at which point we will be engaged in subversive tactics to try and get ahold of the new Harry Potter book. We will spend a week in Rustenburg and then move to home stays in the Zeerust area for the next 7 weeks. Both places are in the North West, part of the former Orange Free State. You can find a halfway decent map of South Africa here: http://www.places.co.za/html/visualfind.html (click on the NW province for more detail).
Until we swear in (tenatively scheduled for 20 September), I won't have any access to e-mail or a cell/mobile phone, so please don't be offended by the long periods of silence. I can, however, receive mail at the following address until then:
Joyce Adams, PCT
PO Box 9536
I would love to hear from any (or all) of you, since letters will be my one connection with the friends & family that I've accumulated from all over the world and I'm counting on there being some pretty lonely, homesick moments. And, my birthday's (still) on August 13, so I'll celebrate it during training!
I know it was helpful when another friend left for the Peace Corps that she sent a list of package suggestions. Please don't interpret this as a plea for packages at all! But, here goes: photos, letters, books (quality fiction, human rights-related, classics, young adult, anything set in London, international law), DVDs, cross-stitch kits (later, I'm pretty stocked right now), and magazines (celebrity/gossip, the Economist, New World, New Yorker).
Alas, I've got to go and finish the packing. It's nearly there, but I might just have to give in to all my critics and take out the can of pumpkin-pie filling that I packed for Thanksgiving.
Love to you all,