It’s Official

28 11 2010

So it’s official.  I have graduated from being a PCT (Peace Corps Trainee) to a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer).  The ceremony was held this past Wednesday at the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam.  The ceremony started at 10:00am but we had to get there fairly early since, as you can imagine, the security there is pretty ridiculous.  I was shocked by the size of the place; it was one of the largest complexes I’d seen in Dar es Salaam.  However, the complex not only housed the US Embassy was also USAID (United States Agency for International Development) as well as a handful of other smaller organizations.  It was absolutely beautiful, there was tons of open space with well-manicured gardens and lawns.  It didn’t really feel  like we were in Tanzania because all the buildings, outside and inside, looked very American (aka they had carpet, tile, office chairs, etc.)  The outlets in the place were even the ones that are compatible in the US.  Anyway, our group of 38 trainees arrived about a half hour before the ceremony so that we could practice three things.  One, we needed to sing the US National Anthem.  Two, we needed to sing the Tanzanian National Anthem.  And three, we were going to sing a song that our group wrote, entirely in Swahili.  The ceremony was awesome.  The country director for Peace Corps spoke, the US Ambassador to Tanzania spoke, and an official from the Tanzanian Ministry of Education gave the keynote speech.  Near the end of the ceremony, the US Ambassador led all the trainees in the oath we needed to take to officially become volunteers.  “I, Glenn Legacki, solemnly pledge my two years commitment and support to the peoples of Tanzania, and in the spirit of peace, friendship, and international cooperation that I will do my best to fairly represent my country while respecting the traditions, culture, and values of Tanzania, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully carry out my duties as a Peace Corps Volunteer.”  While I really enjoyed the ceremony, my favorite part was the post ceremony finger food.  The spread consisted of samosas, chicken/beef shishkabobs, fresh fruit juice, and a marble cake decorated to honor the Peace Corps Volunteers.   Again, most of the meat here is not like the meat in the US… it contains all the fat, gristle, and bones, so not by choice, I’ve been cutting back on the amount of meat I eat.  However, the US Embassy does meat on a stick the right way, and I loaded up.  After the post ceremony finger food feast, we all went back to the hotel that we were staying at to relax and get ready for dinner. 

The second part of the day was spent preparing for dinner; all of us were invited to the US Ambassadors house to have dinner.  Again, as you can imagine, the US Ambassador has a RIDICULOUS house.  It sits one street away from the beach.  There was a huge backyard with freshly cut green grass (another rarity here in Tanzania) with a huge two story porch on the back of the house.  There was of course a flagpole surrounded by a garden with the American flag; you could smell the ocean on the light breeze that was blowing through the yard because we were so close to the Indian Ocean.  It was very surreal to be standing there; I thought about how long I had wanted to join the Peace Corps, really since halfway through college.  I thought about the lengthy application process and about the times during training when I thought to myself “what the hell am I doing here”.  And now I was finished training and was standing at the house of an Ambassador in Tanzania as an actual Peace Corps Volunteer.  I can’t really describe the feeling, but it was awesome.  Anyway, we were greeted by the Ambassadors wife who was decked out in red, white, and blue with American flag earrings; exactly what I thought the spouse of a foreign dignitary would look like. She was extremely friendly, and was genuinely interested in every single one of us and made a point to talk to everyone.  Then there was the meal.  Oh.  My. Lord.  Little did we all know, but the Ambassadors wife had helped cook a pre-thanksgiving meal, with just about every dish you could imagine.  I apologize if I talk about food a lot, but being here I’ve realized how lucky we are in the US to have the huge variety of food available at any given time.  So when I do get to have something that is different than rice and beans, or a good cut of meat, I get really excited.  The spread of food included fresh salad, greek salad, potato salad, fresh mango, chicken (the price of turkey here is astronomical), stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, and just about any other thing you could imagine.  If the main course wasn’t good enough, dessert was even better.  We had fresh fruit salad with mangos and papaya, brownies, pumpkin pie, APPLE PIE, fresh cream, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and banana pudding.  There have been times before when I’ve said “I’m full”, but I honestly think this is quite possibly the most full I’ve ever felt.  I mean, I pushed myself to the limit, and then ate another piece of apple pie.  By the end of the night, all of us had to be rolled out of the place.  I guess they wanted to fatten us up, because the next morning (thanksgiving day) we were all going to finally depart for our sites, where food at first may or may not be hard to come by.  I’ve got to take off for now, I’m trying to conserve my battery since I don’t yet have a solar charger for my laptop, but I do have internet, so send me emails!  It’s amazing to me that I’m in a rural village in Tanzania, and I still have access to the internet, but I’m not complaining.  Next time I get one, I’ll try to post pictures of the swearing in ceremony and the thanksgiving dinner at the Ambassadors house.  I think you’ll enjoy my clothing choice; I was able to pick up an authentic African shirt, so you may not recognize me in the pictures J Hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving!




8 responses

30 11 2010
Polly Bachrouche

Glenn, I am so enjoying following your life in Tanzania. What a life-changer. You have my utmost admiration and respect (not that you didn’t have it before :-).

The Bachrouche’s send their regards.

18 12 2010

Thanks Polly! I have all is well with you and the family. Have a Merry Christmas!

28 11 2010


WOW! Congratulations on becoming a PCV! It sounds like an amazing ceremony. Good timing with Thanksgiving so you could enjoy some traditional American favorites. I’ve got family in town from London, and so had a huge meal and they enjoyed their first Thanksgiving meal, it was great.

It must have been really cool to be that close to the ocean. How is the Kindle working out for you? I’m thinking of getting one to take with me to PC. I sent you a friend request via FB so I could check out some pics. There was another Glenn with the same last name…………so we’ll see how that went. I’m starting a “wish list” at REI (camping store) for PC, so if you know of any “must haves” let me know if you think of anything.

Ok, gotta start getting ready as the London family is coming to my house tonight for paella and tapas and I have a TON to do beforehand.

Bye! Laura

18 12 2010

Hey! Good to hear from you again! So I accidentally didnt’ accept you as a friend on Facebook because I didn’t realize it was you. I will try to fix that!

As for items to bring, here is my list of essentials. Some may seem extravagent, but trust me when you’re out there on your own, you’ll probably really appreciate these things!
– Solar/Handcrank light (also some people brought solar chargers for cell phones etc.)
– Knife set for cooking
– MP3 player
– LAPTOP. Peace Corps will try to convince you to not bring one, but most people have them and are glad for it. The people who don’t have them are getting them shipped over…
– Kindle; reading makes the time fly by
– 1 or 2 good textbooks

If you need anything else, let me know, and have a happy holiday!

28 11 2010
susan Pendleton

I have been reading your blog and feel like I’m with you on your adventure. Long ago when I graduated from college i wanted to go to Africa with the Peace Corps. Instead you remember that I went with Chip after we married. One month we drove ourselves around East Africa in a VW bug then we were “in the bush” at a mission hospital for two months. Our trip with the Peachtree Rd. was our first trip back to Africa in 40 years. I went to the gathering of the last mission trip participants (in Sept) with Erica. We were at Ann’s house. I was interesting to hear what has been going on. I wasn’t the only one who thought about you. Thanks for the blog. I’m keeping you in my thoughts and hoping it will continue to be a wonderful experience. Sue Pendleton

18 12 2010

So good to hear from you. It’s been quite the adventure thus far, but I didn’t realize that you had wanted to join the Peace Corps! Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts any prayers. Say hello to the Kenya gang at church and let them know I said “Habari!” and “Merry Christmas!”


28 11 2010
Karen Okupniak

Glenn – We met when you were about 10. I’m married to your father’s cousin Dave. Your Aunt Lynn forwarded the information about your blog, and we’re really enjoying it! We were at your grandmother’s 80th birthday party last Friday, and you were there in more than spirit. You didn’t QUITE overshadow Babci, but almost. Your family is SO very proud of you. Please keep up the good work, and keep the blog posts coming.

18 12 2010

Karen, good to hear from you! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. It’s a lot of work but I feel like I’ll appreciate the effort later on… I really missed not being there with the whole family at Thanksgiving; first year I haven’t made it. Hope all is well with you!

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