Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Mbe sabatiring Kwinella.

Translation: I am residing in Kwinella.  More accurately, starting in September, I will be living in the village Wurokong and working 2 km away in Kwinella, at the Lower Basic School, a school for grades 1-8.   In Wurokong, I will also be working in the nursery extension school (equivalent to pre-school/kindergarten) affiliated with the LB School in Kwinella.   The villages are in biking distance to the river, but 3-4 hours inland of the main, though not quite metropolitan area.  From what I can tell based on my semi-reliable map skills, the village is near Kiang National Park, and I’m definitely pumped to try to get some outdoor adventure in my life again!  Wurokong also used to be a PC training village, and there is a place called Tendaba Camp, where I can possibly take a staycation and swim in a swimming pool if I desire; pending how well I do at making friends with the staff…

I am extremely grateful to have found out where I will be working. It has put new perspective into why I am here and reinstalled motivation to keep working on my language skills as well as other skills throughout training.  I can’t wait for site visit, where I will stay in the village and get acquainted before moving in permanently.

Until next time, Kayira doron (peace only)!

Monday, 4 July 2011

ndanka, ndanka. domanding, domanding.

Slowly, slowly:  My first lesson from the Gambians and one of their favorite phrases.  Greetings are a major part of the culture here, and it is rude to not even take the time to say ‘salaam aleikum / peace be with you,’ even to strangers.  We have begun to learn these extensive greetings, and it gets extremely confusing!  One common question in the greeting conversation is “How is the work?” and the answer is typically “I am on it slowly, slowly”.  The pace of life is much slower and I am about to move into a village and begin to experience this firsthand.  While in this training village, Madianna, I will be expected to make a connection with locals as well as achieve midlevel proficiency in Mandinka; often learning many variations of the same phrase.  Learning language is always a struggle for me, but I have to remember that it will come slowly, slowly.
I move to Madianna this Wednesday, and Sunday I will have a ‘welcoming ceremony’, which is an adaptation of the naming ceremony for newborns ~ I will be given my first African outfit (to borrow) and my own African name!  During this training period, I most likely won’t have internet so I wanted to update you all on what is to come.  After 8 weeks of intensive language and culture training, all of us trainees will go on a muddy marathon march, a long hike across our new home for the next two years.  I can’t wait to hike and get muddy!!!  Finally, once all that is finished, we get to swear in and make our official commitment as volunteers.  We all wear matching African outfits and swear in at the President’s home/Statehouse in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.  Until next time, salaam aleikum!

Friday, 1 July 2011

First Thoughts

First thing, I’m going to admit that I have an anti-blog bone in my body but after talking to several people, decided to ‘turn over a new leaf’, ‘flip the page’, ‘change my tude’…and all that.  I decided to start this blog as an easy way to share stories, thoughts, and adventures with anyone who may be interested.   Throughout service, I will try to update with interesting posts.   Staging in Chicago already seems like years ago even though I have been here for only a couple of days.   The first day was overwhelming, but it was great to meet everyone with the same thoughts, fears, and aspirations as myself.  
         After a long day of travel, we arrived at the Peace Corps transit house and were able to just relax and go to sleep, which was much needed.   During these first days of training, we’ve been learning more about health, safety and all those tools we will need during service.  As for now, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.