Shortly after I accepted the job in Idaho, I received a Facebook friendship request from a name I didn’t recognize. The request came with a note. He identified himself as my soon-to-be coworker and wanted me to know that I could call upon his assistance at any time as I made the two-state move.
When I found this message in my inbox, I was working in The Collegian office. I disrupted everyone’s workflow, which I tended to do often, to announce this new friend. Our supervisor was floored by his gesture, commenting on how unusually sweet it was and the reassurance it should give me.
This virtual friendship did put my nerves at ease. I now knew one person in Idaho, and that seemed to be enough. One would lead me to more, but I just needed to have one.
That friend ended becoming one of my better friends in Idaho and, as the story goes, I made other friends during my short time there. That experience alone proved that I’d be OK moving to a place full of strangers. Sure, I cried and was alone at times, but I made friends and shared many special memories with great people.
A couple days ago, I received a Facebook friend request from a current Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger. She reached out to let me know she was excited for me, and the rest of my PC group, to come to Niger. She is part of the class that will help train mine and I could contact her if I needed anything.
Now, I have one friend in Niger.
The Internet is a beautiful thing. Since I accepted my invitation, I’ve been connected to former, current and soon-to-be PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteer) in Niger through this blog, Peace Corps Journals and Facebook. I even met a few who are assigned to the same job as I and some RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) in other parts of West Africa. We’ve shared packing suggestions, tips on life in Niger and advice on the Peace Corps experience. I am not even in Niger yet, but I already feel like I belong to a family.
Being a PCV will be challenging and I will want to quit at times, but I am going into this experience feeling like I’m a step ahead, like I had when I drove the 18-hours to Pocatello. One RPCV told me that the single most important thing as PCV is to create relationships. I’ve already started to do that.
With two weeks left before I depart for staging in Philadelphia, I am enduring a wave of emotions: excitement, nervous, scared, reassurance. But each time I speak with a PCV, the excitement flares. I haven’t left South Dakota and I’m already being welcomed. I am going to be OK.