Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Volunteer...Almost!

Hello all--

I wanted to check in with you...especially before it got too crazy here. Today is the day!!! In less then 3 hours I will be swearing in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer. I am truly amazed by how fast the time has gone by so far, and I am still not sure how it happened, and I am certain that I am not ready--I feel ready, yet in my gut I am a ball of nerves. It seems like yesterday that I stepped off the plane wide-eyed like a little baby bird, and here I go getting kicked out of the nest...

I finally met my counterpart/"homologue," which is the person that I will be working with--and living house is in his courtyard--for the next two years. Out first meeting was so angst-ridden that the night before I could barely sleep...but here is how it played out:

There was such an air of anticipation on the day that we were to meet our counterparts. We knew they had arrived and there were Burkinabé standing around, but we couldn't figure out whose person was whose. I felt like I was in an orphanage, or like I was Orphan Annie, walking around trying to find the person with the matching locket necklace. We all sat down in a big room, the Burkinabé on one side and us on the other. At this point they had name tags on and I spotted my guy from across the room. So far, so good, I thought to myself. He looked normal enough to me...he seemed harmless. So, finally they tell us to go find our counterpart and introduce ourselves. I walk over to him and in my mostly horrible French start telling him who I am, etc. He looks at me with this blank look on his face. I start worrying that I al not saying something right, and he continues to stare. After a good 5 minutes of me gesturing like a mime and trying to get my name across I realize the problem...HE DOESN'T SPEAK FRENCH!!! That's right folks...all that hard work to learn French and my counterpart doesn't speak it very well. On top of that...and I want you all to know that this is in NO WAY a hit against him, because he is a really nice intelligient guy, but he can't write either. It became quite a problem when he had to present me to the room and he couldn't remember my name, or anything else.

Now, I know most of you are thinking..."are you freaking out right now?" Honestly, my answer to that is no, because I am certain that with time, and some good drawing abilities we will be able to communicate. However, it did take the wind out of my sails a bit...oh well, as is the motto here, "ça va aller!"

Anyway, everything else about my post sounds pretty enticing. They built me a BRAND NEW house inside his courtyard, and from what I have heard he has one of the nicest houses that my boss has ever seen...and mine is being built in that one can only hope right? I live right off the main dirt-road through town, and close to the marché for shopping. Really, overall I am quite content with my site. I am eager, anxious, nervous, excited, happy, sad, and everything in between about going to site...

It may be a bit before I get to update you--although I will try to do so after my dentist appointment on Monday...I am sure you are all dying to know what a Burkinabé dentist experience is like.

I hope to give you more details about my counterpart, etc. later when I have more standyby! Enjoy the holidays as they approach, and think of me here in Burkina!! Miss you all, and thanks for all the support.

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