Saturday, September 3, 2011

Phase One is Done

The 13aker's Dozen and our PCVL, Jen, at the swearing-in ceremony.
     The babying and hand holding is over!  As of September 2nd, the 13aker’s Dozen may no longer be considered trainees.  We’ve become true, legit VOLUNTEERS!  (Yeeaaaaah Buddy!)  So what happens next?  Here’s the answer:

     On the 5th, we will again take the bumpy ride in the land cruiser across the country, and we’ll be dropped off at our permanent sites to fend for ourselves.  We have been assigned a 3-month challenge to stay at our site as much as possible and have been given various tasks for each month. 

     In September, we are expected to turn our houses into homes.  This has different meanings for each of us considering some are placed in city houses with electricity, and others (like myself) are out in the middle of nowhere living in round mud huts.  So while Eduardo is hooking up his refrigerator in Brikama, and others are plugging in their fans, I’ll be trying to figure out how to hang a mosquito net from a tree to create an outdoor sleeping area.

     After making our homes livable, our next step is to venture out and get to know our communities, meet the leaders, and find our go-to’s.  The Peace Corps has stressed time and time again the importance of building relationships.  If we want to create sustainable projects, we must become one with our communities, make friends, gain trust, show them we care and that we are here to help. 

     With the community on our side, we then get to the good stuff… SCHOOL!  During the months of October and November, we are asked to take in as much as we can, observe everything and access the school’s needs while we search out our future counterparts.  The Peace Corps doesn’t want us to start any projects during this time, because history has shown those who do don’t end up carrying out their plans.  It makes sense… the more thought you put into something, the more likely it is to succeed.

     I can admit that I am nervous about all that is to come, and the pressure I put on myself to succeed does give me spells of anxiety here and there, but I’m excited too because I finally get to see things for myself.  For the past two months, we’ve been told many things about culture, education, and the way things are done in The Gambia, but I’ve held off sharing those facts because the majority of them have been second-hand.  Now, I can tell it like it is, and you can hear it straight from the horse’s mouth!  My hopes are that this blog can be less about me, and more about Africa.  May we all learn together.  J

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