The past few days have been quite eventful to say the least. The morning after my malaria pill induced dream we arose to be injected with rabies and hepatitis vaccines. Shortly after, Baboucar, a Gambian LCF (Language and Culture Facilitator) and a mini Dave Chapelle, taught us how to bathe with a bucket and how to use a pit latrine… sound effects and all. Apparently, it is important to lock your screen door when doing your business. If someone from the village calls for you, you should make a loud noise as though you are clearing your throat and that will let them know that you are busy. Ohh… the fun I’m in for. J
Finishing the training day off we discussed norms and values in each other’s cultures and common misconceptions. The Gambian trainers were sent to a room to make a list of their concepts of the U.S. and we were sent to a room to do the same for The Gambia. A few of their concepts of the U.S. were worth mentioning…
- are highly educated
- don’t lie or cheat
- can swim
- are Christian
- are on facebook
- have guns and may use them to fight if you mess with them
- are spies
- like people to do things their way.
Laughs were had all around, but I’m pretty sure they hit the nail on the head with the last one.
After being enlightened in more ways than one, we loaded up the bus and headed to Yuna, our group training site, aka a piece of heaven. There is much to love about this place… the cashew trees, the oleander blossoms, the vibrant yellow and blue lizards, the mangoes, the snails the size of your hand, the torrential downpours, the sounds of crickets and birds being the only sounds, that vegetation is the only thing that obstructs the view of the sunset, and the people I’m with.
They are fabulous. As I told you, there are 13 of us, and yes, we call ourselves the Baker’s Dozen, or BDTG 11 just to add another acronym to the thousand existing in the Peace Corps. We range from our 20’s to 40’s and come from many different backgrounds, yet we share a few things in common. 1) We all are here to help. 2) We have a hunger for growth and knowledge. 3) We like to have fun.
If you had a chance to look at the pictures I posted on facebook, you may have seen the third commonality in full effect. Ms. Cat went balls to the wall and decided to shave her pretty little head. Being a group event, we each took turns slicing off hair here and there. Cat took on many personalities in the process. I could see her dancing on stage with Bruce Springsteen when her hair was transformed into a mullet, being a heavy metal groupie with her mohawk, and last being hired as Demi Moore’s backup in G.I. Jane when she went 2 blade style and got completely buzzed.
Cat is not the only one that is buzzed. We all, in fact, are rather buzzed, or maybe the more appropriate word is high. High on life that is… Everyday we learn something new and exciting and it doesn’t stop. We have the next 9 weeks scheduled to a T, which is why I’m taking the time to write now.
Here is an overview of what we will be doing:
Week 1: Move from Yuna to our Training Villages.
Week 2: Extensive language training, practicing language with our host families, and our first language test on Saturday.
Week 3: Our permanent site announcement, a shopping trip to Brikama market, and continued training across the board (technical, health, first aid, government, gardening, sexual assault awareness, etc.)
Week 4: We have our mid-training evaluation and take a field trip to Gambia College. Training seems to switch from language, cultural and survival to the technicalities of our assigned jobs.
Week 5: Our second language test, and “Tech Blitz” days, where we configure lessons, discuss classroom management and team teaching strategies, as well as anything else that involves the technical side of our assignment.
Week 6: We apply what we’ve learned in a model school. Kind of like a practice run before doing the real thing at our final sites.
Week 7: We meet our soon-to-be supervisor and get down to the nitty gritty for a few days and then have some fun in the marathon march (a long hike through the land/a reason to get incredibly dirty).
Week 8: Visit our sites and have our final language test
Week 9: Swear-in and become a Peace Corps Volunteer!!! Woot, woot!
With all of that said, I have absolutely no idea when I will be able to access the internet again. Considering there is no electricity in our training village, it will be quite tough to upload pictures to facebook. However, they will come. If there is one thing that anyone knows about me, it is that I am a documenting queen. So please be patient, and in the meantime, rest assured that I am having the time of my life.