Tuesday, April 29, 2008

S&M at the White House!

Day one of staging went smoothly and we made it on only about two hours of sleep. After we recharged after a good eight hours, we awoke to more training this morning followed by an exciting afternoon.

It turns out the President George W. Bush instituted National Volunteer Week (which happens to be this week). To honor the volunteering spirit, he invited our Peace Corps training class to his speech at the White House. A bus took us to the White House where we stood in line to go through security. When it came to be my (Sarah) turn to get checked in, my name was not on the list. So they took my SS#, DOB and name and did a security check of some kind in less than 5 minutes. It was actually quite scary how fast they were able to do it, including time to go through the small crowd into the WH and back. I was quickly cleared and once inside we wandered around some part of the White House. Then the PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees) were organized into a group to have our photo taken with Bush. He is much older in person. I guess that is what happens when you are the President - really speeds up the aging process.

As you can imagine, he had some strange things to say to us PCTs. To his credit, he has been a very big financial supporter of the PC. After the photo-op we went into this yellow room where he gave a little speech. Most of it sounded like this, “volunteering is great, the PC is fabulous, let us be proud of volunteers, etc. etc.” All very nice. Then he said, right in the closing line that volunteers are (and this is a straight quote-I wrote it down on the spot) "foot soldiers in the
army of compassion." Take that as you will...

We also met Stephen Baldwin (Sarah shook his hand-yowza!!!). And we just watched The Usual Suspects too. Turns out he is a born-again Christian who gave us his website to email our pictures and experiences and let us know people would be praying for us. It was unexpected given the roles he’s had in past movies. Many of us got a picture with him as well, although we have to get one of the other volunteers to send it to us.

Everyone is great. We look forward to getting to know them better. Tomorrow we fly into Guatemala and begin the really hard work.


Michelle said...

Hi you two! I can't believe you're off already! It seems especially weird to me, what with being in the last few days of the semester, and being in what feels like a whole 'nother world...

I hope the flight was good (and not too scary:). I already miss not stopping by Cbus on the way home from school--I hate not knowing when I'm going to see you next.
I can't wait to hear how things progess!

Love you both, hope to hear from you soon,

Aunt Kath said...

Sarah and Mat,
Hey I never thought one of "my kids"
Would be in the White House!! Leave it to you, Sarah, to have to go under
a security check.
I miss both of you terribly.
Love to both,
Aunt Kath'