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!