Peace Corps Swearing In Ceremony & First Days at Site

It’s been over a month since I last posted from Liberia! Here’s what’s been going on…

Early in the morning on August 18th, we boarded a bus to head into Monrovia to go to our swearing in ceremony, held at the city hall. After 11 weeks of training, we were finally becoming official Peace Corps volunteers! All of the Peace Corps Liberia staff, representatives from Peace Corps headquarters in Washington D.C. , representatives from the US embassy and our host families came to support us at the ceremony. Plus the most honorable guest was Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia!

During the program, we all raised our hands and officially swore in as volunteers. There were also several speakers: the country director, a fellow volunteer and the President herself! After the ceremony, we had lunch on the pavilion behind the hall, including both Liberian and American foods.

After lunch, we had just a couple hours to go to the supermarket and pick up some last things to take to our sites. I focused on things that are harder to find outside of the city, some cleaning supplies and snacks (Pringles, nutella, etc)! Luckily we had just enough time to get an iced coffee and American donut (treats only found in the city) before heading back to the bus!

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The next day, we all left for our sites! While some of my fellow volunteers were heading off on hours-long or even days-long journeys, mine wasn’t very far as I was going only one county over and the drive was along the paved road (not something found in many parts of the country).

The first day at my site was a whirlwind! I met my principal at my house and after dropping off my things, I was surprised with a trip to the school I’d be teaching at to go to the graduation ceremony for the previous school year’s graduates. I didn’t even know I’d be attending the ceremony and ended up seated front and center on the stage!

The school where I am teaching

Besides the unexpected graduation, I spent the rest of my first day meeting my neighbors and starting to get settled in my house.

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View from my back porch!

The first couple weeks were all about learning my way around and where to find the things I need! My landlord and his family live right next door and they have been very helpful, from helping me with washing clothes to drawing water from the well.

The well next to my house where all my water comes from

Another big thing the first days was finding food! My landlord’s family has a small shop in front of their house where they sell dry foods so right away I was able to buy spaghetti, onions, and tomato paste to make a simple meal. In my first weeks, my neighbors also gave me plenty of fruit too – bananas, oranges, and monkey apples, the small red prickly fruits in the photo.

Bananas, oranges (they’re green on the outside here) and monkey apples!

When I arrived at my house, it was empty, I only had 2 chairs and a mattress. So for furniture, I have been working with the local carpenter to get a bed frame, book shelf, table and wardrobe. I still have more to do to settle in but I hope to share some photos of my house soon!

In my town, we have a weekly market every Tuesday where I can buy many things that I can’t find in town on other days. So far it’s been mostly small things for my house that I’ve shopped for at the market, like curtains and dishes, along with any other foods that I might see.

Entering the market on market day

In addition to my landlord’s family, I’ve also gotten help from a few neighborhood kids to help me find things in the market and show me around town. The teachers and administrators at school have also been really helpful as I get to know the town and the school.

Exploring my community

Another priority for me was finding a charging booth! I do not have electricity here so needed to figure out how to keep my phone charged. I have a small solar charger that I’ve been using but it’s rainy season right now so sometimes it’s not quite enough because there’s not always direct sunlight. So I’m able to drop my extra battery off at a charging station, a house down the road where they have a generator and pay a small price to charge it and then I can pick it up later in the day.

In the first weeks, I also spent some time on my school’s campus as they prepared for school to begin. We’ve now been in session for a couple of weeks, more to come soon about school!

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