This past Friday was our swearing-in ceremony. This is the moment we transition from being Peace Corps Trainees to actual Peace Corps Volunteers! In the past, the different programs have had separate ceremonies at different times because the training for SED (Small Enterprise Development) and COD (Community Organization Development) is 2 weeks shorter than the training for EE (English Education) and HE (Health Education). This year, however, they decided to combine it into just one ceremony. This means that the EE and HE volunteers (including me) are still in Pre-Service Training (PST) for another 2 weeks. We are only conditionally sworn-in until August 11th, when we are done with PST and move to our permanent sites.
The ceremony was pretty big. Just before the ceremony, we signed our oaths. The ceremony started with each of us being called up to the stage by program. As our name was called, a powerpoint showed our picture, name, our hometown and 2 maps- showing where we were from in the United States and where our permanent site in Moldova would be. Once all the programs were done, we were all on the stage, and our Country Director and the United States Ambassador to Moldova gave short congratulatory speeches. The US Ambassador then led our oath, and we were officially sworn in! A couple of Moldovan officials gave short speeches in Romanian, and then 5 of the volunteers did short speeches as well. One volunteer was chosen from each program to give speeches about our experiences in PST, which was done completely in Romanian. Only one of the volunteers in our cohort (M31) was trained in Russian (which is actually pretty unusual- there are generally several trained in Russian), so he gave a speech in Russian.
Once all the speeches and formalities were finished, three groups of volunteers performed. First, there was a large group that has been taking dance lessons and they performed 3 or 4 traditional Moldovan dances. They were even dressed in full traditional outfits and they did a fantastic job! Then, all of the EE volunteers (my group) performed a song and dance that our language instructor, Galina, taught us. Several of our host moms joined us as well, which was really nice. And then one of the HE groups performed a song. You can see the first group’s dancing in this video by a fellow volunteer. And the ceremony was on Moldova news, so you can see that here (it’s mostly in Romanian, but you can see my group’s song and dance at the 3:31 mark).
After the ceremony, there was a reception with food and coffee and tea. Many of the host families came to the ceremony, as well as many of our partners, and for the EEs and HEs, several of the school directors came. My host family was unable to make it, but my partner from my permanent site came, as well as my school director.
Once the ceremony was over, and we took our photos, the SED and COD volunteers moved straight to their permanent sites. Many of the EE and HE volunteers stayed in Chisinau for the afternoon to celebrate.
It was an exciting, busy day!