You don’t really know how bad you are at goodbye’s until you are forced to do some for real. It becomes sort of an anticipatory dread as you contemplate vaguely how it will feel, and this feeling is so underlying as your trip nears that when it actually happens you’re relieved. Even more than relieved, completely excited and prepared. Something about the anticipation clears the moment for you to enjoy. I left my family around 6:30 PST at the Bellingham International airport flying turboprop to Seattle and then Delta 777 to New York, arriving at the designated PDO location around 6am EST. Navigating alone was simple and efficient and the only hitch came from a plane thats rear door wouldn’t close fully.
The team trickled into the hotel, I was there first and had time to meet everyone and talk. PDO activities were fairly dictated by AFS and State literature and covered responsibilities and guidelines, language, cultural taboos, security, and the mission. From 4 to 9 Sept 2, from 9 to 9 Sept 3, and 9 to 11 Sept 4 we worked in our little NSLI-Y Turkey conference room. The hotel was nice and we were fed a lot, but didn’t get much free time.
I’m on the plane now flying Air France to Istanbul after an 8 hour New York to Paris. I got patted down in both JFK and De Gaulle but we had others who forgot full water bottles in their bags and got pulled aside. We all made it. There are 17 of us here on the plane with our NSLI-Y advisor, 8 NSLI-Y Turkey students, 7 Youth Exchange and Study kids and two AFS kids. There’s an hour until landing and everyone is trying to get some sleep. I’ve already been up about 24 hours. Later today we have a security briefing at the consulate after lunch, and somehow we will bus to Salimpaşa where will stay studying language every day until September 14th when we fly to Izmir to meet our host families and find our high schools. The eight of us each have our own school. As we prepare for our ten day language class intensive period, emersion inches ever closer, a willful suffocation we can’t wait to drown in. Except in the microcosm of this analogy, one can learn to breath underwater.