Monday will be the two month marker for my time in country so far and the past two weeks have been pretty busy. Stage is almossst over and I’ve only got a week until I’ll be sitting in my new house! Disclaimer: this post is probably going to be long, boring, and full of lots of pictures (my parents don’t believe that I’m actually in Africa).
First, Dad - this is what my bike looks like (and yes that is a bell that says “I love my bike” on my handle bars, and no, I did not put it there):
Two weeks ago we had our site announcement ‘ceremony.’ Our LCFs (or some other talented artists from the bureau) put together a giant map of Burkina and all of one by one we were given a little paper doll with our faces on them to put up on the map:
I’m really excited about my site which is a town of 6,000 in the South West. I’ll be the first volunteer they’ve had, but from what I’ve heard from the volunteers who helped develop my site, they are a very motivated community and seem excited to have me. I found out some more about my house as well, which is apparently conveniently located very close to the primary school, marche, some NGOs, and is just off of a paved road (no electricity, so Sam, no I won’t have anywhere to plug in my straightener). I was also really glad to hear that I’m only 5k or so from my closest volunteer another trainee from the health sector who I’m really looking forward to working with.
Other noteworthy things happening in Burkina lately: I’m not sure if I mentioned in an earlier post that GEE was running small girls/boys/youth clubs with the students from the summer school courses being taught by the secondary ed folks. My group held a small theater club with kids in troisieme (I think) which is roughly like ninth grade in the states. Each week we would start with an ice breaker and briefly talk about some small aspect of theater (although none of us had any sort of background) and then the kids would talk decide on topics for the themes of their sketches. I was really impressed with how motivated and intelligent the kids were (granted they were opting to attend summer school in the first place). Theater is huge in Burkina as a method for distributing information and raising awareness on important social issues. Although we listed a few ideas, the kids came up with some really great skits about forced marriage, excision, and various topics involving the importance of staying in school. Other groups had clubs that were focused on health, planning for your future, English and various other themes.
We each met with our clubs four times and at the end of the month we merged some of the groups together for a one day “youth camp.” Again, the groups could choose their topics and the group I was a part of decided on team building activities. We ended up turning it into a mini ‘field day’ but I think we managed to get some important ideas across about communication etc. The first activity that we did was the human knot which was pretty funny:
Another activity that went over really well was the blindfolded obstacle course where one person had to lead their friend through a maze that we drew on the ground in chalk:
We did a three legged race that I even participated in, and I have to say, Ebben and I had a pretty awesome showing during our heat. At the end our group preformed their final skit on forced marriage for everyone which went really well.
I will admit that these types of activities are ones that I am normally a little nervous about since my French skills aren’t quite up to par, but it ended up being a really successful day and the kids seemed like they had a lot of fun. The whole group:
This week was a pretty full week as well. All day Wednesday and Thursday each sector had our Counterpart Workshops where our homologues from each village come to learn about what their role is, what the Peace Corps is, and of course meet us. Each community selects two main counterparts for their volunteer, one to be a sort of supervisor, and one to aid with our integration into the community, show us around etc. My supervisor couldn’t make it, but I did get to meet my community counterpart who is a pastor at one of the churches in my village. He was very nice, and despite the language barrier, I think it was a very good jumping point to get me started in my village.
In other news, there are crocodiles in Burkina! Most of the sectors have taken a little field trip to a nearby town called Sabou (?) to see some crocs and Saturday was GEE’s turn. We took the nice air conditioned Peace Corps bus to this compound and basically walked out onto this swamp where there were crocodiles just chillin in the water. There were some ‘guides’ who dangled chickens in front of them and pulled them towards us so we could take pictures (really humane/safe, I know):
So that was a fun change of scenery and a nice little treat for having completed our final language test of stage.
We’re gearing up for swear in next week and I’m definitely having some bittersweet feelings about it. We’re having a mini ceremony for our host families on Monday and then move out Tuesday before heading back to the capital for swear in. I’m very excited for the long days of training to be over, and even more excited about eating some awesome food at our party. But sadly it also means that on Sunday we’ll have to say goodbye (for now) to all the other trainees and volunteers for a while and move out to our villages. I am pumped to get into the meat of why I’m really here, but I would be lying if I pretended I wasn’t the slightest bit nervous at the same time. Thankfully Sam sent me an awesome Glee poster to hang in my house, so I’ll have the fine folks of McKinley high to keep me company.
On that note, thanks so much to everyone who has sent me packages! I’ve made my friends a little jealous because I’ve become notorious for receiving a package almost every time mail comes to our training site. I am also selfishly starting ‘what I want’ and ‘what I can find here’ lists (mostly for mom and dad) but feel free to peruse. I have been terrible about writing and sending letters so far, but no worries, I think I’ll have plenty of time for that in the next few months/ two years. It is hard to believe that it is already August and for the first time in 17 years I won’t be going back to school. Hope all is well with everyone at home and those at Wake are getting excited for their senior year. That’s enough from me for now, lots of love!