Here's a picture of me and Memaw before I left, I've got good genes!
When I thought about this "staging" in Philadelphia, I imagined walking into a hotel with a lot of hippy guys and girls with newly shorn hair. Instead, all the guys were in khakis and collared shirts (as the Peace Corps requested) and there's only one girl who shaved her head in anticipation of the heat.
I didn't know what to expect as far as the ages of people - and there is quite a spectrum. A few older women (one that looks exactly - I mean it!- like Glenn Close, about three married couples, and lots of college grads! There are about 78 of us - a lot more than the 30-40 I expected. Everyone brings a different dynamic to the group as we prepare to embark on different journeys. Some working in environment & agriculture (me!), small enterprise development, water sanitation, education, and one more I'm leaving out. Some have experience, some speak French and some don't but everyone is enthusiastic. (Don't worry, we're not all freaking out on each other with my level of excitement and energy - we all express it differently :)
There are 9 harmonicas, about 5 guitars (none filled with as much as love as mine - thank you to all the girls who got me my guitar) and one flute. One guy who has never left the US and about 6,630 pounds of luggage to be checked. We've spent these past two days sharing fears and anxieties about our upcoming adventure - ones we didn't want to share with family and friends that would scare them more :) We have lots of hope too; hopefully more than fears. (I need a lesson on semi-colon use if anyone wants to comment with advice).
They gave us a generous stipend for our time in Philadelphia so we've been eating lots of good food and tying up loose ends (i.e. passport photos, books from cool used like the Book Trader - though none as cool as Riverby).
We get up tomorrow at 7:00 to get more shots at the clinic and then head to NY in the afternoon to leave from JFK at 10:30 p.m. I'm doing great and still excited to be heading out but couldn't do it without all the love I'm receiving from home. Thanks for your emails and calls, they've meant more than you can know.