I had never been to Houston, TX but I flew in and began my journey as I shared an Uber with Tanya and Ryan (both to my left in the photograph) to get checked into our hotel. Oh man, first impressions are always so nerve racking but right away I was impressed with these two ladies. It got even better when once we arrived and signed in for staging and met everyone. Bak’tun 8 is an extremely diverse group of individuals and I mean this in the sense from age, race, and class. In terms of age we have individuals who recently graduated college all the way in their 70’s. Even couples who have raised their children and ready to dive into something new or begin the next chapter of their lives.
Even with the diversity, everyone is laid back and brings various insights and accomplishments underneath their belt, it is a little intimidating. After interacting for a few short hours the take-away’s or lessons from staging include:
1. Be serious when your having fun
2.Embrace your fears
3. Treat Yo’ Self, Protect Yo’ Self
1. Be Serious when you are having fun
It was if, we all met right away and meshed well right away. Learning everyone’s personality we discovered we are a creative, funny, intelligent, sarcastic, & eclectic group. I’ve not stopped laughing since the day I met them all. It’s serious but not that serious. We all made this big decision to join the peace corps, now that we are here you might as well have a good attitude or sense of humor about it. More so I take this is has fun but find ways to be intentional, purposeful, and meaningful about how and why you do it.
2. Embrace Your Fears
We all had similar interest s passions, different backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, and different areas of expertise. It started to become real the intense journey we were all about to embark on. With that dose of reality, we realized that we shared similar fears. For example, “what if I don’t get along with my host family?, how will I deal with being an outsider?, copingwith speaking the language, or how will I cope not being a cultural outsider but will I experience racism if I am of a different race?” This is just to name a few. As all of our fears, were vocalized, which were all valid, that it was normal. Hence, with our fears tIt was also important to check any of our biases or superiority complexes at the door as we started to move forward.
3. Treat Yo’ Self, Protect Yo’ Self
One aspect of staging that occurred to us, quickly was the amount of group activities and ice breakers we would be doing. This has continued into pre-service training as well. One activity for staging included, the 8 core expectations for peace corps. We were asked to discuss each core principal within our groups and at the end of the discussion to pick a new word or a few general phrases to describe our thoughts. For example, core principle 8 is, “Exercise judgment and personal responsibility to protect your health, safety, and well-being and that of others.”
At the end of the discussion, somehow the phrase Bak’tun 8 came up with was, “Treat Yo’ Self and Protect Yo’ Self!” My take-away is that the goal and the mission of Peace Corps isbigger than all of us as individuals. Therefore, when the going gets tough or your uncertain in a particular situation to protect yourself, don’t do anything foolish, put yourself first and take care of yourself. Protect yo’ self, treat yo’ self is now a running joke we have carried with us into pre-service. Whenever our group is together, it is non-stop laughter from when we start the session to the very end. I appreciative and fond of my new family! J