Sunday, July 31, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
I am in the middle of COSing, which in non Peace Corps speak means the administrative process taken before officially being a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV). After tomorrow, July 1st 2011, I will no longer be a Volunteer but an alumni, a RPCV of Burkina Faso. It's a proud title that approximately 200,000 other Americans have acheived. With it (I hope) comes the newfound knowledge that I have gained after living in West Africa for two short years.
I have said my goodbyes to Tenkodogo, and am now in the process of doing the same with Peace Corps and other volunteers. It has been a wonderful service, a bittersweet moment, but alas more adventures await in the near and far future that I cannot wait to tackle. Where one door closes, others open.
I will write a far longer reflection blog when I return to the United States, but I just wanted to write a little to let everyone know that it's been fun writing for you and I hope you have enjoyed what you have read. Thanks to everyone who has supported me in the last two years; together it has been a wild ride.
This next week I will be flying to Kenya to see my father for what we hope to be an amazing safari experience. I will then fly home to see my mother and sister where I will most certainly beat my mother in a game of tennis before flying off to Belize to see my girlfriend for two weeks. I will more formally be home in the month of August with some family gatherings covering the month. Then comes September, where I will have to figure out my next steps.
But for now, I am in a good place in my life. I am proud of what I have accomplished, I have no regrets, and I am ready for the future!
Thank you everyone,
Monday, June 20, 2011
Choosing your battles
Pick yourself up
And dust yourself off
And back in the saddle
You're on the frontline
You know it's serious
We're getting closer
This isnt over
The pressure is on
You feel it
But you've got it all
When you fall get up Oh oh...
And if you fall get up Oh oh...
Tsamina mina Zangalewa
Cuz this is Africa
-Waka Waka by Shakira
Winning boys team holding up the cup.
Week two of kids camp offered a new set of obstacles and activities, most notably the cup finals: futsal for the boys and basketball for the girls.
PCVs Luis Chidas and Joey Grassi performing a skit on hand washing and using latrines.
But before I discuss the finals, I would like to highlight a bit of activity that passed in the second week. Kids learned about the importance of role models, environment, deforestation, the importance of latrines, nutrition and sanitation, and my personal favorite activity of the week: the library.
Playing the game Hangman with l'environnement
At the library.
That puts us at Friday, the day of the Cup. Four other volunteers came to town to watch the cup and the director of Peace Corps Burkina after that. Cleats were given to the winners of the futsal tournament and jerseys (DC Stoddert Soccer!) to the basketball winners. After the tournaments, the girls and boys both put on theatrical presentations about malaria and HIV/AIDS respectively. The girls, impressively, wrote their own play and I was especially proud of their efforts. After the plays I awarded the winning teams with their prizes and then gave all the participants, including star performers in the class room, prizes. In the end I feel that the camp was a great success and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
Giving prizes to two standout boys, Roland and Kadé.
In the following days after the cup, several students have returned to thank me and show off their new jerseys and shoes. I don’t like to boast about my service, but I really feel that a lot of the kids really listened to the lessons I gave them and my hope is that these 24 kids will become leaders in their own right in the years to come. My friend has offered to coach the girls after I leave, which is a tremendous relief knowing that they will have the chance to continue playing basketball after I leave.
The girls with Country Director Shannon Meehan, Rodrique Laconté, and me.
One thing in particular that I found very interesting was the different people that the students chose to be their role models. Most girls chose their mothers as well as some of the volunteers who helped during the camp-no surprise there. What was a big shocker was how many boys chose their mothers as their role models. Only one boy chose his father, almost half chose their mother. One boy chose me as his role model, an honor but I think he was just searching for brownie points; a shame for him since school is already over.
In short it was a wonderful way to finish up service. Go out on top with your head held high, it’s the way to do it. I have one more week in Tenkodogo and then it’s off to Ouagadougou to finish up properly before going to Kenya, Belize, and beyond!