A (somewhat) short statement about staging

Staging is the first part of the training portion of your PC service. It's when you and your fellow trainees all meet in the US before departing for your country of service. I am someone who hates forced camaraderie and often feels annoyed at the thought of icebreaker activities.

I thought I would hate the 48 hours of staging in Los Angeles.

On my flight to LA, I opened a couple of letters from family and friends and cried to myself on the plane. While collecting my checked luggage, I called my best friend to tell her how emotional I was, and I cried again. I wasn't embarrassed, because out of any place in the world, an airport, a hospital, and college orientation are the top three appropriate places to cry outside of a funeral.

Upon my arrival in LA, I had the fortune of meeting up for lunch with some friends  from kindergarten who live in the area, my cousin for dinner, and a friend for drinks, which eased the process of transitioning to a location where none of my closest loved ones were immediately located. I called another friend back home shortly after my arrival to inform him of my sadness and nearly cried again. I felt like I was being ripped from my roots.

But then staging began. The first night we just signed some papers and got our allowance for food/expenses until our arrival in Vanuatu. I met some fellow volunteers. I met my roommate, Cris, and had a couple heart-to-hearts with her about relationships and family. I met AJ and bonded with her over our mutual love of BBQ sauce while we shopped the aisles of Trader Joe's for travel snacks (apple sauce pouches, vanilla wafer cookies, and chocolate-covered blueberries).

During staging, the actual agenda was learning about Ni-Vanuatu culture and how to react in safety and security scenarios. We talked about the handbook. We did a basic overview of materials that we had received prior to staging.

But between the mundane, there were moments of real human connection, and dumb icebreakers that actually let us know a little bit about one another (Emma, too, was bringing her art supplies, what a coincidence). It eased the process of leaving the country, and I began to realize that all of us were in the same boat. It put things into perspective. I was no longer scared or upset or emotional (well, a little emotional). I knew these funny, intelligent, good-hearted people were people cut from the same cloth, and I was excited to spend time with them during training.

I now knew the purpose of staging, and I was excited and ready to head off to Vanuatu.


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