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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stage Goodbye

I and two much better writers than me (Eric D. and Melissa M.) were asked to write the stage goodbye article for the PC Senegal volunteer newsletter.  We struggled over what to say for a few days, then fate stepped in. Thankfully, Doctor Mbuus said it better than any of us could.

This is probably going to be my final blog.Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my time in Senegal over the last two years. It means a lot that my family and friends, and even strangers, have shown so much interest in this tiny West African wonderland. I'm humbled by every pageview and tremendously thankful for your support. Although I won't post anything else on the blog, please feel free to email me at any point in the future. I'll be around. Ajaraama. En burini han.
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Stage Goodbye, by Eric, Barb, and Melissa.

On a dark and stormy night at the Diourbel regional house, the three of us were simultaneously awoken by pounding drums. Weird, we all thought. We had assumed we’d learned to sleep through even the loudest and most rambunctious sabaars during our two years in Senegal. As we listened closer, however, we realized these drums were different. They were much more…sinister. We arose from our beds and followed the strange noise to a room we had never seen before. With RADAR on max and mini med kits in hand, we entered the room and discovered the drumming was coming from a single dusty book on the ground, demanding to be discovered. In lieu of a normal stage goodbye article, we’d like to present what we found in that book.


Oh! The Places You’ll Go in PC Senegal! 
By Dr. Mbuus


You’ve made it to Senegal! What a great place to be!
Take a doxy from Ouissam and start PST.
You’ll feel super awkward in a dance circle session
But stay ‘cause you want to make a good first impression

Your stagemates are great, friends are easy to meet
These funny-ass people are all smart and upbeat
Patrick will have tight pants and a head full of curls
“There goes a dude who’ll get all the girls.”

Lunch bowls will be full of veggies and meat
“This is what everyone in Senegal eats!”
The first few days trapped in the center might hurt
But soon you’ll discover salvation at Church

And Maggie might sleepwalk right into your bed
And you’ll get a whole slew of vaccines from med
You’ll be in CD transition, but there is no peril
because soon you’ll meet the incoming Cheryl

You’ll sit through endless educational sessions
While you make bracelets, play snake, and kind of listen to questions
You’ll study Wolof and Pulaar and cultures unique
You’ll think you’ll know it all in only 9 weeks

Except that you won’t.
Nope, sorry bro, you won't.

I’m sorry to say so
But sadly it’s true
Because Ben’s Playground
might happen to you.

When training is done the fun really begins
Get a new complet made, it’s time for swear-in!
You’ll bang your dick on the table on the way to the fete
And then eat your weight in catered crevettes

Now off to your new site! You'll drive for a spell
And you'll greet your new family, work partners as well!

But you can’t really greet them, your language is awful
And village food sucks and you just want some waffles
And you can’t sleep all night because donkeys are braying
And you wake in the morning to marabouts praying

You’ll damage your liver at the regional house
And curse your hut’s dastardly clothes-chewing mouse
You’ll drop your Diva Cup right down your duus
And slowly get used to seeing family members’ boobs

But you’ll stay, and slowly things start to improve
You’ll get a routine down - you’ll hit your groove
You’ll go back to Thies for PST2
And learn all those technical skills through and through.

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is work to be done! 
You’ll do such great projects! You’ll help everyone!
You’ll have VRFs chock-full of indicators!
Your Mandinka’s so good you won’t need a translator!

Except that you won’t.
Nope, sorry bro, you won’t.

You’ll set up a meeting and no one will come
You’ll forget basic greetings and look really dumb
You’ll sit with work partners trying not to yawn
Then everything shuts down for Ramadan

But just when you think these are all futile actions
People start to believe and your projects get traction
You have enough Wolof to tell off a jerk
Your village will say that you’re finally doing work.

Insulting your neighbors will stop feeling mean;
Now you’ll laugh as you joke about Diops eating beans
Meanwhile PC friendships gain more and more power
Because in regional houses it’s always happy hour

You’ll endure two miserable sept-place rides
To go to Kedougou 4th of July
The mountains will be in rainy season bloom
And the party goes all night - BRING BACK THE VOLUME

You’ll play serious softball at WAIST in Dakar
Or maybe you’ll just noos it up at the bar
Then you’ll spend a late morning hungover on the beach
But at least second year you’ll stay off the corniche!

You’ll come to love it so much you might try to extend
And six girls in your stage will snag a local boyfriend
And as you’ll smugly remind all incoming trainees
Your stage has had only five people ET

Oh, the places you’ll go! Your projects are going great!
And you have such good friends and you love your sitemates.
You’ve come a long way and now you know so much more!
And you have so much time left to be in Peace Corps!

Except that you don’t.
Nope, sorry bro, you don’t.

Because months fly too quickly; permasummer’s deceiving
Suddenly it’s COS and you’re barely believing
The journey is over, it’s time to go move on
Where have the last 26 months gone?

And as you get ready to step on that jet
You’ll muse that you won’t miss perpetual sweat
Or the waiting for hours for cars to depart
Or the “are-they-or-aren’t-they” giardia farts

But you’ll miss Senegal! You’ve set roots in this dirt
And ripping them out now is sure going to hurt
And you know it sounds lame, but you always tear up
When you think of your family’s kids growing up.

But leave now you must, and the world will keep spinning
Because endings are just the new stories’ beginnings.
So go on! Close this book! It’s your COS day!
New adventures are waiting….
So get on your way!


By Dr. Mbuus



We hope we speak for everyone when we say to those of you lucky enough to have a spare couch or a functional kitchen in the next step of your journey, please keep a spot open for a wandering RPCV. And to those of you who might, at some point, need somewhere to sleep or a place to cook your mac and cheese, never be afraid to ask. The bonds we’ve formed won’t end when our service does.

Teranga, Jamm, and Love, HE/CED 2014-2016.