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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Parties and Goodbyes



Hey all,



Hope everything is going well for you!  Since the last time you’ve heard from me, I had a 3-day counterpart workshop (with a party at the end), then a 3-day final homestay in my language immersion family (with a party at the end), then from Tuesday through today, to celebrate training being near completion, we rented a gorgeous house on a beach (Popenguine) to drink heavily and sun ourselves.


Real tough job I got here.

Everything is amazing, seriously.  I’m so happy here.  I have loved training and I’m excited to get to my permanent site because I’m sure I’ll love that too. I feel like I won the Peace Corps lottery by being sent to Senegal, and within Senegal, I think my permanent site is the best in the country.  This is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

It was hard saying goodbye to my family from Sambalaube.  They’ve taught me so much during the past two months.  A fellow trainee and I were laughing the other day about stupid stuff I did when I first got here, like drinking the foam of the attaya, or not being able to remember anyone’s name, not even my own.  I made so many mistakes, and everyone was still kind to me.  That’s encouraging since I’m sure I will be making many more mistakes over the next 2 years and future kindness will be appreciated.

The Hadjas at the goodbye party. I’m gonna miss this lady quite a bit.

At the counterpart workshop, my future host brother Tidiane (pronounced Tee-john) came up to Thies.  He was my predecessor’s counterpart, too, so he knows all about Peace Corps and what to expect from me.  He speaks very slowly and clearly, and he’s hilarious, which I really appreciate, since it’s hard to joke in a language you don’t speak well and I love laughing.  In Senegal, people have teasing relationships between families, like Shakespeare’s Capulets and Montagues.  My new last name is Sabaly, which has a joking relationship with a bunch of other families, including the Seydis and the Baldes.  At counterpart workshop, Tidiane was teasing a fellow trainee who’s going to be a Seydi soon.  He told her she eats lizards and steals goats and her mother can’t cook rice.  I guess it doesn’t sound funny written down like that, but everything’s funnier in Pulaar. 


Our swear-in date is tomorrow, Friday, May 9.  There’s a big party in Dakar with fancy clothes and good food. After that, I will cease to be a Peace Corps trainee and start to be a volunteer.  I’m excited to start my real service, though I’m still not exactly sure about what it will entail.  My job for the next several months, before I go back to Thies for In-Service Training, is to learn more language, meet people, and study my community, but that’s not a 9:5 job.  What should I do the rest of my time?  When I was bored in Korea, I would watch TV shows or download podcasts.  I don’t yet know how to kill time with no electricity, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

After swear-in, I’m going back to Thies for the weekend, then early Monday morning all my stuff and I are finally going to Kolda.  I have 5 days in Kolda to use the internet at the regional house and shop for things I need to settle in (like a bed, bike, cookware, etc) and I’m set to move in to Teyel on Friday the 16th.  Tidiane warned me that there would be a big party to celebrate my arrival to Teyel and I will be expected to dance and drink lots of tea.  Pretty sure I’m up to the challenge.

Since I’ll have reliable internet for most of next week, I’m gonna try to hardest to be on skype, if anyone’s interested in setting up a date.  It’d be great to see some familiar faces!