Well whoever says it, they're wrong. Last Thursday was spent with the RPCV group in Birmingham at the Mellow Mushroom. There was hummus, a few brightly colored fruity drinks (which I am too young to order *le sigh*) and many many people all either interested in applying to the Peace Corps or going through the process now. Mike Robie (the regional recruiter for Alabama) showed up to answer questions and we got to spend a bit of time discussing how my preparations were going. But, as with any PC event, the main event (i.e. the pizza) could not be enjoyed until those of us already under their mind control were subjected to a bit of humiliation by Dan Fredrick (who, make no mistake, is a singularly wonderful man).

All the nominees stood up first to say their name and the area to which they had been nominated. It was really kind of sad to see an entire line-up of people whose spirits have been broken by the process and think that a few shorts months ago I probably looked just as miserably uncertain when talking about the Peace Corps.

Next the trainees stood up, just myself and one other girl who was (I believe) headed to the Bahamas. We went through the same spiel looking altogether much more cheerful than the other group (we've made our peace with the fact that the Peace Corps owns us and have shiny invitation packets and plane tickets to assuage any lingering unease) and spoke about our individual assignments.

The rest of the evening was spent peeking forlornly at the exit as people queued up in front of us both and the verbal assault began. I had terrible flashbacks to English 402, sitting in the middle of a room with a wild mob (mostly full of people at least 10 years my senior) surrounding me on all sides and shouting "So THAT was the answer to question 3?" and me meekly nodding and hoping to make it out in one piece. The prospective volunteers mostly ate their pizza and drank their beers and chatted with one another in that adorably naive way that said they had no idea what lay ahead of them. The current applicants though, they stared at the two of us as if we had found some magical secret to an easy admittance and were hiding it from the masses. Several of the returned volunteers were watching from the shadows and laughing at our predicament, having been in a similar position many times themselves and I would have shaken my fist at them but I doubt they could have seen it over all the people.

Eventually the questions died off and we both grabbed a piece of pizza and the evening was generally lots of fun. I walked away with sense of great accomplishment as if I HAD actually found some magical answer when in reality it was just lots of perseverance and demanding they not ignore me that got me in. In any case it was nice to see that much interest in something that is possibly one of the most worthwhile programs the U.S. government runs, especially in Alabama where the mention of the Peace Corps usually leads to a lot of vacant stares.

Probably just one more blog before I leave and it'll be a few weeks from now. Look at it like this, I'm preparing you all for the long wait between posts that you'll endure when I'm in Togo :)