Friday, August 3, 2012

Hello Madam Secretary!

I must say this week has been one of the most interesting that we have had thus far. It has been filled with both highs and lows, and everything in between.
We started out the week with a Counterpart Workshop in order to prepare both ourselves and our work partners for the work that lies ahead of us.
It is always a little awkward having someone that you barely know come  to the training center for training sessions when you hardly have one language in common. A relationship will come with time and I am at least glad that we had the opportunity to spend some time together before I get to site. Some of the sessions that our work partners attended included topics on safety and security for the volunteer, how to help the volunteer integrate into the community, and some habits and cultural differences to expect with living with an American. Though the sessions were focused on being more informative than entertaining one of the highlights of the Counterpart Workshop was a language session. During the session one of the trainees in my stage, who was a previous volunteer in Kazakhstan before the country got evacuated because of safety issues, taught a few of our supervisors some key phrases in Kazakh. The point of this session was to show our work partners how difficult it is to learn a language, specifically one that they have had no previous knowledge of. While learning Kazakh, which is considered a Turkic language, they will be faced with some of the difficulties that we face everyday and, in theory, be more aware of how we are feeling. I think they point came across well, it was HILARIOUS to say the least!

Apparently a day in the life of us trainees involves Hillary Clinton, obviously, as she administered our swear-in oath this past week. Being able to meet Hillary Clinton and have her read us the oath was a was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We were recognized not only throughout the Peace Corps community but also internationally in various news publications (Click here for article in CS Monitor publication and Click here for article in allAfrica publication). Meeting her made me realize and respect just how much the Clinton family as a whole does for our world community! They are a true inspiration and I would like to think that someday I will have the opportunity to work more closely with their efforts. Below is the oath that every Peace Corps Trainee says at their Swear-In Ceremony in order to become an official Peace Corps Volunteer.

I, (state your name) do solemnly swear

That I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic,

And that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same,
That I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion,
And that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the Peace Corps,

So help me god.

Movie Night is something that, and I have absolutely no clue why, I have failed to mention and is a big part of my life as a trainee. Now I am sure that by now you are familiar with the fact that I am spending my time between two cities; Sangalkam, in which I work on language and culture with one other trainee, and Thies, in which I work with all the trainees in business training sessions. While I am in Thies a couple of trainees (Trevon and Alexx) and myself have started having movie nights after dinner; we simply hook my computer up to a projector in an air conditioned room (this is key) with hopes to feel like we are actually at a movie theater. Originally Alexx, Trevon, and myself invited our whole stage (training class) but since we are the only ones that ever really show up we like to consider it as something that is our little thing now. We have watched all sorts of movies from a documentary on American education called Waiting For Superman to the ultimate comedy Stepbrothers to the film Pulp Fiction in which I am still a little unsure exactly what had happened. It truly depends on our mood. This is also the time where we take advantage of eating junkfood, usually American if we can get our hands on it. Overall, one of my fondest memories I will have during PST (pre-service training).

Tonight we are having our Host Family Reception in which each of the trainees, one member of their host family, our language teachers and other Peace Corps staff get together for a few hours for dinner and a reception. None of us are really positive on who exactly is coming from our family, since the invitations were sent out after we were back in Thies, but I believe its my host mom. I am excited for tonight not only because of the good food that we are going to get to eat but also because my mom is quite the social butterfly so I won't have to keep her entertained throughout the evening! It will be fun to meet some other people from the Senegalese community in a relaxed atmosphere and to see the types of relationships that each of us trainees have formed with our families.

So its official, I received my first package!!! A big THANK YOU to my wonderful parents and Bird and Doug, or my parents host family as they like to call them as of lately, for everything!! This beautifully stickered-out box was filled with things such as a Hawaiian calendar (duh), keyboard cover, wipes, adapter/converter, memory card, and jump rope. I assumed that a package being sent from Hawaii would take some time to receive but I never would have thought six weeks!! Considering the length of time it takes to get a package it appears as though I will only be requesting luxury items instead of the necessities, in which I will be able to buy in Vélingara. So feel free to send anything my way, anything and everything is more than appreciated!!!

I just wanted to say thank you again to everyone that has taken the time to send emails or Skype with me online! I know that everyone is very busy with their own lives but it means a lot to be able to talk to everyone once in a while! I will always accept a Skype date request so feel free to send them my way.

Cheers and until next time!



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