Leaving behind her native country, one Montoursville native is hearing a lot of "Akwaaba," which means "hello" or "welcome" in Twi, the language of Ghana.
Cory Loudenslager, 35, who grew up in Montoursville, left at the beginning of the month to begin her trip to Ghana, where she will start training as an agriculture Peace Corps volunteer.
For the first three months, she will live with a host family in Ghana to become fully immersed in the country's language and culture. She then will be assigned to a community, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.
Cory Loudenslager, of Montoursville, relaxes at Starbucks days before leaving for Ghana to be a part of the Peace Corps.
While she does not know specifically what she will do, she does know that she will work with farmers to improve agricultural practices in the region, with a goal of sustainably increasing household items, food security and environmental quality.
The key is working with the farmers.
"We don't go there and say, 'We're Americans, we know better,' " Loudenslager said.
Instead, she will take the farmers' ideas to improve and to implement them in a way that makes it more profitable.
Loudenslager signed up for the Peace Corps last June, after doing some soul-searching. She kept facing signs encouraging her to enlist and eventually listened.
She wanted to keep it quiet when she applied until she heard a definite answer, but she also wanted to know what her parents thought.
"My dad was like, 'Oh, that's cool,' " Loudenslager said. "My mom asked 'What's the Peace Corps?' I just wanted their approval. I needed someone to take care of Charley."
Charley is her 8-year-old German shepherd that she brought along to the interview so she could spend more time with him before having to say goodbye.
The corps' areas of volunteerism include teaching, information technologies, medicine, non-government organization and forestry.
Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Loudenslager worked in law firms in Buffalo, N.Y., and Arlington, Va., specializing in worker's compensation defense litigation and with families of plane crash victims.
She was not certified to teach, practice medicine or work with computers, so she hoped to work in forestry.
After she found out that was what she would be doing, she was told to get experience. She began biking to work to get used to biking long distances in the heat. She took a double course of French, both beginner and advanced, so she could learn the language. She volunteered in a botanical garden and an organic farm outside Buffalo, N.Y.
Another way she has prepared is by purchasing a Twi-English dictionary, which she has been flipping through to pick up some words.
One of the problems with the languages is the focus on accents. The word "papa" can have three definitions, depending on the accents.
As her last few days in the U.S. dwindled, Loudenslager worked to get all of the last-minute preparations done, such as packing up her apartment.
"I think people think I'm supposed to be excited," Loudenslager said. "I'm just exhausted. Six weeks ago, I found out (I would be leaving). I had to close out everything."
Yet she is excited for the travel opportunities. Already she has visited Russia, Australia and other parts of the world.
She found an area man who had been to Ghana and she had him answer her questions and explain where she had to go. She wants to visit the elephant reserve, a pineapple farm and different parts of Africa.
She also has followed blogs of Peace Corps volunteers who are serving in Ghana, which helps her get ready mentally.
"I research things," Loudenslager said, "so you know what you're getting into."
She has started a blog where people can find out more information about her trip at postcardsfromghana.tumblr.com. She was told to anticipate being able to update once a month or by visiting Internet cafes.
"It's Africa for beginners," Loudenslager said she was told because Ghana is fairly modern compared to other African countries.