Peace Corps Blog

This is a blog of my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, working in South Africa. My job title is a capacity builder, which means I help increase the effectiveness of a local NGO that does AIDS/HIV related work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I now sit in Philadelphia, where I am going through the staging process for the Peace Corps. Over three days, all the volunteers get a chance to meet, receive some basic overview information (safety, policies, logistics) and finalize information (fill out forms). On the last morning (tomorrow), we will all receive shots and be bussed up to JFK for the flight to Frankfurt. Just yesterday I learned that we will be given day rooms in Frankfurt, so we can relax and sleep a little for our twelve hour layover. They strongly encourage not exploring, as it could easily result in missing the second flight.

The people here at staging are quite impressive. There is a wide range of ages and a number of couples. Everyone is warm, friendly and interesting. The experience has been quite reassuring and it provides a nice sense of safety and companionship to meet such cool people.

In addition to impressive people, the organization and logistics of the whole staging event impress me. Currently, 240 volunteers are being trained in Philadelphia (93 for South Africa in my hotel, the rest for other African countries all at a different hotel). The whole experience, though, has gone extremely smoothly - it feels as if we are in good hands. Yesterday, we turned in all the forms and got settled. In addition, we did some discussion of larger strategies for success and safety. The Peace Corps answer to both is the same: "integrating into the community." Although not always ground breaking, the information they provide has been interesting and provides a great opportunity to get a feel for the experience and the other volunteers.

And before all my staging began, I had a chance to meet up with Travis and enjoy one last dinner with family. He and I went to a very nice dinner at a restaurant called Bliss and then wandered downtown a little. It was a nice way to arrive into Philadelphia.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Welcome to my blog where I will write about my upcoming Peace Corps experience. With time, this will provide some insight into my experience and adventures. In addition, I will eventually be posting photos in my online photo album. But please be patient, as my internet access will be limited. Chances are I will not truly begin to use this blog until September or later.

This blog can always be accessed by going to .

As the Peace Corps requirements state, I must include a disclaimer on the site: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Now that's out of the way... just to go over some basics about what is coming up: In just a week, I will be leaving for Philadelphia for my initial staging, where there is intensive overview training and vaccinations. From there, all 90 volunteers who are going to South Africa will be bussed to JFK. The first flight (both flights are on Air Lufthansa) will leave Thursday night and arrive in Frankfurt on Friday morning. Thanks to some discussion among incoming volunteers, a number of us are going to try to visit the city if feasible (since we have a twelve hour layover). On Friday night, we then fly on to Johannesburg, South Africa arriving at 8am on Saturday, July 20th (probably all quite exhausted at that point).

By Monday morning, we all embark on the eight week training session - seven weeks of which will be spent with a host family, but there is an initial week for adjustment.

Following training, I will be working for two years as an "NGO capacity builder". From what I understand, that means I will be placed with an NGO which does AIDS/HIV work (which could be anything from education to health care). As time goes on, the goal is to try to contribute and make the organization more effective. Given a little time, I will soon have a better feel for exactly what I am doing...