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Updated: 1 year 5 weeks ago

John Wayne and Magical Velveeta Cheese

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso Adventures in Africa 2012-12-16 23:55:00
Here’s an oldie…written in November, that unfortunately never got posted due to the lack of internet connectivity here:  even when you “have” internet, the reso is so bad and slow, that things don’t work anyways and you might as well just not have Internet at all….

November 19, 2012
What?...a new blog post….only five days after the last one?   Yup, that’s right.  I have internet again!   And again, I am in village, sitting in the comforts of my house, listening to the crickets and toads outside (they’re quite loud, but I’ll take them any day over the horrendous, ear-wrenching noise of donkeys), as I work on my computer.  And once again, I’m in the process of trying to upload some stuff and read some emails.
Tomorrow is marché day, so as soon as I’m done with my morning classes (just 2 hours of math tomorrow: 7-8am and 8-9am), I’ll be hopping on my bike and pedaling the short 15 minutes to my market.  It really is quite a nice bike ride.  The path winds and curves, with trees branches to duck from every now and then, as well as the occasional big rock to swerve around, not to mention herds of animals (cows, sheep, and goats) crossing in front of me.  In general, this area has a lot of animals, primarily due to the fact that the river isn’t too far away, so at the very least (and during the driest of months) there’s bound to be at least one water source.  Also, we have a lot of Peuhl people, and what they know and do is animals.  Basically, they’re kinda like nomads, in that they wander around with their animals, packing up and moving the entire village when necessary.  Tangent: it’s the Peuhl women who bring calabashes of fresh milk on their heads to the marché – and I buy this milk (and boil it to kill any weird stuff living in it) and either drink it as hot chocolate or make it into cheese.  Mhmm, mhmm!  But in recent years, the Peuhls have started to settle down, remaining in village, learning French and other local languages in the village even though they have their own language (Fufuldi), and sending their kids to school.  However, what they still live and breathe is animals.  While the well-off villager might own a bull or two for plowing fields, a couple donkeys for pulling carts, some goats or sheep, and a handful of chickens, the Peuhls have HERDS of animals.  As in hundreds of four-legged creatures that bring “traffic” (i.e. other donkey carts, kids on bicycles, mom’s walking with babies on their backs…etc.) to a halt as we wait for all the animals to lethargically cross the road with their “herdsman” trailing in the dust storm behind them.  The herdsmen are often just little boys ages 5-15 who weren’t lucky enough to get to go to school and are dressed in rags and probably carry a stick to hit the cows with and get to spend their whole day following the herd and leading it to water or other fresh sources of vegetation to eat….which sometimes means villagers’ corn fields…  But, in all seriousness, the herds of animals, quite seriously, are reminiscent of a scene from a John Wayne western movie!   The wild, wild west is alive and kicking, here in WEST Africa!
Anyways, speaking of Peuhls and herds of animals and dairy products (i.e. calabashes of milk), Molly opened a package of Velveeta cheese yesterday!  It was magical.  Thanks Molly’s parents!  And thank you, Kraft, for inventing one of the best things ever: fake cheese that tastes really good and melts and makes amazing American comfort food (like the mac-n-cheese we ate yesterday for lunch, or the grilled cheese sandwiches we made ourselves today!) and can be shipped to anywhere, even Burkina Faso without going bad.  And even if it does go bad, it’s still edible!   Yes, this is a fact.  We may or may not have given in to eating semi-questionable looking cheese when we made chili and quesadillas for Halloween.  According to the date on the package, it was definitely expired by a few months...but we opened it up anyways.  It had multiple weird colored spots on it, and its scent wasn’t quite like Velveeta normally is, nor was the taste quite up to par, but it still melted and still tasted pretty decent compared to many things we come across in Burkina.  So we decided to go with it, hoping it wouldn’t make us sick.  We cut off the weird spots, and then went crazy making cheese filled quesadillas.  We also made the tortillas ourselves, of course.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back to buying tortillas.  Homemade is definitely the way to go, even if it takes some time to roll out the little circles of dough…    Anyways, we each ate more than our share of questionable cheese that night, and no one got sick!  Hence, Velveeta does not go bad, and, as previously stated, is magical! 
P.S.  Anyone and everyone is always welcome to send me Velveeta cheese and/or any other cheese-like tasty edible item!   

Je Ne Regrette Rien

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso The Adventures of a Peace Corps Violist 2012-12-15 10:07:14 When I was on my high school swim team, my coach always said swim like you have no regrets. I’ve always been that kind of person who tries to live their life and make decisions without regret. Sometimes I get … Continue reading →

Adventures in Teaching CE1: Reasons why I love my Class

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso The Adventures of a Peace Corps Violist 2012-12-10 23:30:27 They are always ready for a song or jumping jacks They remind me to put a star on the hygiene chart or to give them a piece of candy if I happen to forget They actually go to the latrine … Continue reading →

Ebben Wiley's back in the States?! Say what?!

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso What Am I Doing In The Peace Corps? 2012-12-02 01:02:00 Hello faithful readers...

Sorry I did such a terrible job of blogging while in Burkina. I am now back in the States, and will be returning to my old blog http://ebbenwileybell.blogspot.com.

Peace Corps was amazing, and with out a doubt, will remain one of the most more memorable experiences of my life!

I grew much more than I ever expected. It's so odd... I was in West Africa for two and a half years, but if honestly feels like I just left the States. (I went to Paris for a week and went on a two week cruise from England to the Canary Islands; aside from that, I was in Burkina Faso.)

I expected things to be so different upon my return to home...I guess I expected too much. Because so little has changed (for the most part in terms of how America is) it's very hard to reconcile that I was actually gone for two and half years. THAT alone makes it even harder when it comes to where my friends are in their lives.

Gone are the days of dropping everything on a whim to hit the mall, or bar. Hello responsibility!

That said, I have some awesome stories/ things to share with you all. I am working on getting photos of all the fun things I bought in Burkina, and creating a post on my main blog.

I am also in the process of applying for a really cool grant that I will link everyone to in the next couple of days. I will need you to like my post on the sponsor's site for me to win.

I promise to get that post up before Monday morning!

Thanks so much for keeping up with me while I was in Burkina, and PLEASE continue reading on my main blog!

Happy Holidays!

Ebben Wiley

Projects: Part 1

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso Gidget Goes to Burkina 2012-12-01 16:55:08                 I’ve written a fair number of blogs about my observations of the life and culture in Burkina Faso, which are important for you to read.  I’ve written less, however, about my actual job here, and especially the difficulties that … Continue reading →

Projects: Part 2

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso Gidget Goes to Burkina 2012-12-01 16:56:41                 Cathérine and I chose a day to visit all of the classes at our high school to announce that we were starting a girls’ team.  My school doesn’t exactly have a loudspeaker system set up for announcements, so we … Continue reading →

Where has the time gone

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso Audrey's (not so) African Adventures 2012-11-29 13:18:00 It's already December! This semester has flown by! I have had the chance to meet some wonderful people through work and school. The choice to move to Miami was a right one, even though I still hate my daily commute, Miami is warming up to me.

Click HERE to read an article about the Women s Build at Habitat for Humanity I participated in with some lovely ladies in my Community and Social Change Program!

I promise there is more to come. Once school ends on the 14th I'll have ALL Christmas break to upload some good posts, and pictures! 


Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso Peaces of Burkina Faso 2012-11-26 06:26:00
I left village. Even typing those words doesn’t quite make it real.
A tiny part of me still thinks I’ll be going back; that this is just another break in Ouaga. I am wondering when it’s going to sink in that David will never run to me with his little chubby two-year old arms, I will never shake hands with all those old women at the market anymore, I may never see the stars from Alima’s house as we chat about life, and that I … left village.
It was difficult. It was frustrating. It was joyful. It was exciting. It was sad.
It had drama and expectations. It had laughter and love. It had people who had gotten to know and accept me. It had people who never really liked me but pretended to. It had sunsets and sunrises. It had adorable children who didn’t understand yet. It had old women who understood too well. It had unexpected gifts and expected giving. It had a few quickly hidden tears by close friends. It had a few not quickly enough hidden tears by me. It had a night of my best friend in village reminding me of all the real reasons I had to go home because she knew. It had me convincing everyone else I wasn’t leaving because I didn’t care, but in spite of the fact that I still cared deeply. It had Burkinabe left hand shakes, French kisses on the cheek and people surprised by American hugs. It had good bye.
It was just… full. 

You go to america why?

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso Peaces of Burkina Faso 2012-11-24 06:10:00
These last few weeks have been full of explaining over and over again why I can’t stay in my village. People are sweet and have been insisting I stay at least one more year. They like me, they say. They finally know me. I finally know Moore. Why do I have to go? Stay! Stay! Stay! Stay! they say. 
I thought you all might enjoy the reasons my villagers would accept as “good enough” for me to leave them and their usual responses. So here are my direct translations (from Moore, least to most convincing) of the reasons I gave for leaving:
1) My work is finished. Our work is only two years here.  You know Mariam, the first foreigner? She only stayed two years, too. When I came they told me, you can come, but you can only stay two years. (Response: oh.)
2) I have to go find a job. I can get a good job in America to make money. (Response: And then you can come back here and share! May God give you lots and lots of money!) 
3) I will look for a husband.  (Automatic responses: We have men here!; You can marry our husband!; Here is my brother. He says you’re pretty. Stay now.) All of the men here want lots of women! For my people it is one man and only one woman. If you can find a man who only wants one wife truest true-- he can't change his mind like, sure I want one wife, but two years later he sees another woman he wants-- and he speaks english, you tell me and we'll chat.  (New response: May God give you a nice/helpful husband!; We will come to your wedding.; Bring your children to see us!)
4) My grandparent, my mother's mother, wants to see me. She said two years is long enough and I should come home now. I also want to see my family and the people in my father's village.  (Response: Your mothers mother is lasting!? Oh, yes, you must go see her. But then come back. She could come live here with you?)  No, she can’t come here.  (Oh. Well, it is good [for you] to go see her. Greet her for us.) (Response 2: May God bless your parents for giving birth to you. Are the old man and woman well? Good. We are glad they came to see us all the way here. Tell them thank you for sending you. )

Hopefully that translated OK and made you smile a bit. I know it does me. I love these people!

The Things I’m Thankful For

Sat, 03/02/2013 - 14:35
Burkina Faso The Adventures of a Peace Corps Violist 2012-11-27 10:33:56 Yeah yeah, I know this is a little late, but I wanted to show some love and share some thanks for the things/people who mean a lot to me. 1. My Parents. They have been so supportive of me. I … Continue reading →

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Behavior Change

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 21:06
Burkina Faso The Adventures of a Peace Corps Violist 2012-11-27 10:44:30 When I was growing up I LOVED reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is a woman who lives alone in an upside-down house who helps creatively solve behavior issues … Continue reading →

Latrine Update

Wed, 02/27/2013 - 17:49
Burkina Faso Heard of it? I LIVE here! 2012-11-23 18:30:00 Well, it’s taken a while but we haven’t forgotten about all of your wonderful contributions to help our village vastly improve our sanitation through building latrines and hand washing stations. It took a while for things to get started because of rainy season. However, even once rainy season drew to a close, people still seemed to be taking their sweet time digging their holes, making their bricks, and building the latrines. As my depart from village drew near, I began to get more and more worried. Could they possibly build all of these latrines before I left? I was doubious.
Less than a week before I was scheduled to leave village, my counterparts took me on a tour to see the progress of all the latrines. It was very disheartening. “Guys!” I exclaimed. “I’m leaving in FIVE DAYS and you’ve barely started!” But leave it to my village to surprise me. A couple days later, we did another tour and I was blown away. The “most improved” award was a three-way tie between families who had not even started digging their hole at the first tour. Bricks had been made so all they had to show for months of supposed work was a pile of bricks. In a matter of only two days, they had dug a hole (2m x 1m x 1m, which is pretty big), lined it with bricks, set the platform, and were finishing the walls. Over half of the latrines were completely finished and the rest were very close. I was so proud.
We gathered at least one representative from each family to come to a hygiene lesson. We talked about how to maintain a clean latrine and then about hand washing. Each family, along with various “restaurant” owners (restaurant in this case mostly refers to a woman on the side of a path from whom you can buy rice for about 40 cents) received a hand washing station. These were made from plastic jugs that we put faucets on. The owner fills it with water then has easily flowing water with which to wash their hands. Otherwise, they usually dip their hands in a big bowl of dirty communal water. We explained that this method is essentially just everyone sharing germs with each other and emphasized the importance of using clean “running” water and soap. Everyone also received soap. We played a little game where we asked the group hygiene questions and those who could respond correctly won soap.
All in all, I am very satisfied with the project. It wouldn’t have been possible without all of your contributions and I can’t thank you enough. If you have any questions about the project, feel free to ask. Otherwise, I’ll leave it at “Thank you!”

*Pictures to follow*

The Fat Lady Has Sung

Sun, 02/24/2013 - 14:24
Burkina Faso Heard of it? I LIVE here! 2012-11-23 18:32:00 I feel like Liz Lemon. I’m currently in the Ouagadougou airport dropping my things all over, I’m pretending I remember how to wear layers relatively unsuccessfully (maybe I’m “power clashing,” like Jack Donaghy? Stripes on stripes because I can?) And to top it all off, my shirt was actually tucked into my underwear which was coming out of the top of my pants.

On the bright side, the entire Burkinabe soccer team is on my flight with me. I am not sure how that’s the bright side, especially since it makes me sad. Anyone who would care even a little bit is nowhere around and in fact the people that I want to tell most I will most likely never talk to again in my life. I can’t stop thinking about Rahim, a boy who participated in my summer camp. He is such a good kid, very sweet with a beautiful smile but the reason he is relevant to my thought process is because he really likes soccer. When we did sessions encouraging the students to think about their futures, he said he wanted to be a pro soccer player. So he would have thought it was so cool that I’m surrounded by professional soccer players.

I can’t believe it’s been two years and I’m leaving Burkina. As I stood in line to check my baggage, I suddenly felt like I was a sleepwalker snapping awake thinking “Wait, how did I get here? The last thing I remember doing was getting off a plane being welcomed to this country in what I imagined had to be the poorest excuse for an airport in the world. Now I’m in this relatively respective looking airport boarding a plane to leave?”

Of course I did not sleepwalk here and I remember getting here quite well. It started a couple of weeks ago. Most of my things were packed. I had a couple of goodbye dinners in my honor. I said goodbye to almost everyone I care about in my village. My friends kept telling me I shouldn’t leave (thanks for making this easier for me, guys). My kids hung all over me for a couple days saying with pouty faces “Lindsy, don’t leave. Please just stay. You’re not mean. What if the new person is mean? You should just stay here.” I assured them she would not be mean but they continued their pouting. The morning I left, the kids came to my house before school to help me clear the last few things out of my house, sweep, etc. Then we sat on my porch waiting for the taxi moto to come pick me up with all of my things. The taxi moto came and as it pulled away all the kids ran after us yelling “Bye! Lindsy! Bye!” and waving like crazy. And that’s as far as I get in my departure story until I get choked up.

But don’t worry – nothing too interesting happened after that. A long bus ride, medical appointments (no problems there), and running around making sure all my i’s were dotted and t’s crossed and suddenly boom! I’m no longer a PCV – I’m an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer).

It’s funny – some moments, like when I’m walking around doing errands and feel like the sun is literally baking me or when something that should be easy takes hours and a pile of frustration to complete, I can’t help thinking “Get me out of here NOW! I am ready. I’m so over this!” But I’m going to miss my friends here a lot. My relationships with numerous people who are very important to me are changing drastically. I’ll only talk to friends in my village on holidays. And it won’t be about anything at all, just “Hello, Merry Christmas, how’s the family? Good bye.” I’ll probably never talk to my kids again, a few of which were my best friends. My relationships with PCV’s are changing, too. Any time I was excited or frustrated or bored during the past two years, I had so many people I could call who knew exactly how I was feeling. I know we’ll still keep in touch but it won’t be the same. After all, what are we going to talk about once our bowel movements are normal and we aren’t comparing village horror stories? But I’m prepared for these relationships to change (by prepared, I mean I’m expecting it, NOT that I’m happy about it). Possibly the most rattling prospect is the change that will inevitably take place in my pre-Peace Corps relationships. I will physically be in the same places I was 2 years ago with the same people doing many of the same things but, to sound cliché, I won’t be the same. I don’t feel like I’ve changed that much but when I talk to my friends and family about my rapidly approaching homecoming, it’s clear that I have. I wish there was another way I could say this because it makes me sound like a moody high school student but people aren’t going to “get” me the way they used to. And I probably won’t “get” them either. Even if it’s a tiny change, we’ve just spent the last 2 years of our lives doing drastically different things. It would be silly to think we’ll all be the same people. While it flew by, 2 years is a lot of time. And I will leave it at that, before I ramble on too much and (more importantly) before I have a panic attack in the middle of the airport.

Peace out, see you soon, America!

The REAL Peace Corps, #3: Dating, Sex, and Romance

Sun, 02/24/2013 - 07:27
Burkina Faso Inscrutable exhortations 2012-11-20 15:15:47 20 November 2012 The REAL Peace Corps, #3: Dating, Sex, and Romance If the stats provided by WordPress are to be believed, over the course of the past 9 months, this blog has had something on the order of 20,000 visitors, from 146 nations and territories: And from those 20,000 visitors, I’ve received just short […]

The REAL Peace Corps #2: Drugs

Tue, 02/19/2013 - 10:57
Burkina Faso Inscrutable exhortations 2012-11-19 13:50:04 19 November 2012 The REAL Peace Corps #2: Drugs Note: I have written a blog post on this subject before. You can read it here. Everything I said in that post is true. It’s just not the whole truth. Think of that post as the ‘official’ version, and this post as the ‘unvarnished’ version. Enjoy. […]

Going Home

Sun, 02/17/2013 - 18:06
Burkina Faso emily in burkina faso 2012-11-18 18:46:00 I am typing this from the comforts of home in upstate New York! And I'm no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer - I'm officially a Returned PCV. 
Last week, after completing a lot of paperwork, the 7 of us leaving on the 16th had our "pinning ceremony" with the Country Director and Peace Corps office staff. 
The group of PCVs COSing. 
Me with the Country Director, Jill.
That night, we flew out of Ouagadougou! There were 5 of us on the same flight. It was a long day travelling but I was glad I was with other PCVs and not by myself - I would have been so anxious alone. 
After arriving at JFK and getting our luggage, we went to meet our parents! Two PCVs (or I guess Returned PCVs now!) had their parents picking them up, and two others were continuing on to the Baltimore airport. 
 The 5 of us at JFK.
Mom and Dad surprised me with posters and balloons! And, there was a Panera salad waiting for me in the car. 

Look at the awesome poster!
After a long exhausting drive back home, I was able to collapse into MY OWN BED! It's nice to be home :-)

The REAL Peace Corps – #1

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:45
Burkina Faso Inscrutable exhortations 2012-11-18 17:18:59 18 November 2012 The REAL Peace Corps – #1 (a caveat) As of this weekend, I have officially been an RPCV for 60 days. At this point, I think the initial shock and turbulent emotions have subsided to the point that I can sort it all out without saying anything I might regret later. Furthermore, […]


Sat, 02/09/2013 - 14:48
Burkina Faso Ça va aller 2012-11-18 09:58:00
As many of you already know, I went home in October. I spent two glorious weeks enjoying family and friends in Florida and then 3 days in New York City happily accepting the UN Leo Nevas Human Rights Youth Advocate Award.
Visiting America after 18 months of living abroad was difficult, strange, and exciting. The aspects of America that I was most in awe of were not, as one might expect, amenities such as running water and electricity or even relative luxuries such as Mexican food (okay, maybe a little bit). Mostly, I was experiencing first-hand the adage about travel transforming us in ways that aren’t always apparent until we return home. I remembered what it feels like to live in my own culture, to speak my own language, to completely understand social situations (although I was lacking some cultural references from the past year or so… gangnam style?). People who haven’t lived abroad don’t know how daunting simple tasks can be in a culture that isn’t your own. Everything seemed so easy, so efficient, so effortless. More importantly, I felt like I could truly be myself because I could express myself and people understood me. I felt at home in an Anglophone dream world of punctuality, friendliness, and rationality. 
Coming back to Africa after a trip like this is hard. If I wasn’t asking myself “what am I doing here?” beforehand, now I definitely was. I had to stop and seriously think about what I was getting out of my service- socially, personally, professionally. These are difficult, yet necessary, questions to ask.
In truth, I’ve gotten most of what I wanted to get out my service professionally. I’m experiencing development work from a grassroots level, learning new languages, etc.
I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth as well- in how I relate to other people, how I define success, how I respond to failure.
So, if I’ve already accomplished what I set out to accomplish, what do I do for the final 8 months of my service?...
I have absolutely no doubt that every Peace Corps volunteer feels this way at some point during their service. This is why we have countdowns and obsess over our futures after Peace Corps and our close-of-service trips. In a sense, we withdraw from the present as a way to avoid this terrifying question. We seek out our fellow volunteers who can give us advice, project ideas, inspiration. Yet, at the end of the day, we still feel that there is something missing from our service. The feeling that all the hassles and frustration are worth it, the feeling of self-worth and accomplishment, is no longer intact.
Getting over humps like these is something that I don’t think Peace Corps administration addresses enough. It’s almost taboo to talk about it, even though everyone experiences it. I think that understanding why the humps happen is the first step to getting over them. I think that the humps happen because we undergo the most personal growth during the beginning of service- going through training, becoming integrated in our communities, overcoming cultural and linguistic hurdles, witness our projects succeed and fail, making host country national friends, strengthening bonds with fellow volunteers, etc. All of these experiences contribute the greatest amount of challenge to a new volunteer, and therefore the greatest amount of the self-confidence which is the natural offspring of that challenge.
Although I’m still learning and growing 18 months into my service, the change is less radical than it was in the beginning. Everyday activities are not as much of a challenge. Chatting with people in village and attending events used to qualify as adventures, but now they are just day to day normal activities.
But just because the newness has worn off doesn’t mean that we can’t get any more out of the experience. There exists a certain Peace Corps ethos that demands a quest for one’s outer limits and accepts no excuse for not trying. With this philosophy in mind, it is true that, to a certain extent, you experience what you open yourself up to experience; the trick is to never stop looking for adventure, never convince yourself that you’ve learned all there is to learn, never stop challenging yourself.  
When I got back to village, the rainy season was coming to an end. Rainy season is my favorite because I love the solitude of reading in my house and listening to the storm make music on my tin roof. I liked feeling cut off from village life, even if only for a short time, to reflect on my own. I was upset that this season, my last full one in country, was over.
Then, sitting on my hammock one night, I saw what I thought was a flash of lightning out of the corner of my eye. It was a firefly. I had forgotten about these insects that light up my village once cold season starts. The fireflies weren’t the only harbingers of a new season: with no storm clouds to impede the view, I could see hundreds of stars in the sky. I was reminded that soon the nights would get cold and the market would be full of vegetables. The harmattan would bring a breeze during the day; the end of the harvest would free up my neighbors to drink tea in the afternoon under the giant mango tree; the marriage season would bring the sounds of the balafon to the village every night. But, before all of these wonderful things arrive, there is an uncomfortable “mini hot-season”.
I realized that volunteers, like seasons, sometimes go through these changes. We, too, have to push ourselves through the uncomfortable periods of doubt, of changing focus, before being revitalized again.
Since this epiphany, I’ve opened myself up to new challenges. I’ve started a girls’ life skills club at a primary school in a village 10km out in the brush. There, early marriage rates are high and they had never seen a foreigner until me. Once a week I cross this rickety bridge to get there. Sometimes, I feel that just crossing this bridge is enough adventure for my whole Peace Corps service.
I’m co-teaching a kindergarten class to help introduce non-violent classroom management techniques and positive reinforcement. I’m also helping to bring Camp G2LOW to my regional capital. I’m spending time with my extraordinary Peace Corps friends- amazing people who understand me as only another volunteer could.
I know that there will be plenty of time afterwards to reflect on my service in solitude, but I have a lot to see, feel, learn, accomplish, and DO before then. Until next rainy season, when I will head home for good, I’m finding inspiration in fireflies, stars, and balafons playing off in the distance.   

La Fin: Bittersweet Goobye

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 15:02
Burkina Faso Among the Burkinabé 2012-11-17 21:30:39 So this is it. After living in Burkina Faso for more than 2 years, this adventure has come to an end. My last few weeks in village, I tried to enjoy the little things that I do all the time: having a calabash of dolo with my favorite tantis, playing with the kids, etc. For [...]

Oh Burkina...

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 14:27
Burkina Faso Just a Thought... 2012-11-17 18:23:00
It’s always hard to think of what to say in this blog considering the fact that I haven’t written a blog in months. How do you describe the emotional roller coaster that is being a volunteer???  I guess I’ll just recap the highlights of the last few months…
  1. ·         All the teachers and back in village and school has started in full force…FINALLY. There were only 3 of the same teachers from last year; Ada, Issaka, and Colette. We had added now Sawadogo, Kabore, and Yameogo. There’s one on materity leave how will be back later in the year and another guy who never actually showed up so who knows what happened to him. I’ve started my rotations there, going from CM2 to CP1. This year we really have a good group of teacher, especially Kabore, Issaka and Yameogo. Kabore is the CP1 teacher and by far the best teacher I’ve seen in this country. There is so much motivation and support in his class. He dances and acts silly, we sing “Mary had a little lamb,” and he never hits or raises his voice. He teaches the kids to work with each other and help each other. Inshallah he will keep this up all year. This year Issaka is in the second part of his exam. He passed the written part over the vacation so now this year he is the practice phase. He’s always working which is good for him and the school, kinda lame for me haha.
  2. ·         Saiba and Yago both left me this year. Saiba as you may or may not know is my best African friend. He was literally my lifeline in village. I spent soooooo much time with him talking, laughing, drinking tea (sometimes beers), cooking, and just having a great time. He’s the guy I went to for all kinds of advice and we even had a heart-to-heart about our love lives. He got affectated to Koudougou and I miss him every day. We still talk all the time but it’s not the same, I can’t just head over to see him whenever I’m bored. I’m hopefully going to visit him next Sunday. Yago (my homologue) also got affectated this year to a school in Leo. I miss him a lot too.

  • ·         I have so many new friends in village. My new village best friend is Omar. He’s my age and HILARIOUS. Our meeting was just super random too. One night I headed over to see Amos and buy some bread. Amos told me to sit down and hang out for a while, so I did. Omar and Kourka showed up and we literally sat there laughing like hyenas until 1 a.m. Now that has sort of become a rtual for us. I get out of school and 5p.m., chat with people on my way home,  chat with my family once I get home, bathe, eat dinner and head to the boutique to see Omar(usually not coming back home until way too late). Sometimes we stay and talk with Amos, other times we head over to Jonas’ house and hang out with him. Jonas is amazing. His wife and kid are awesome. I spend a lot of time there. I even learned to make To with Jonas’ wife. She was very patient with me and it came out really good! Jonas’ little boy is the love of my life. His name is Roman and he likes to listen to my IPod and hop on the back of my bike to ride around with me, he’s 2 haha. I don’t leave village much thses days because I just hate to be away from the people that I love there J (hence the lack of blog updates)
  • Omar and Me!Baby Roman, my <3Tabaski!
  • ·         I’ve started going to Mosque on a regular basis now. I went yesterday here in Ouaga for the first time. In village I’m there every Friday. At first I was really nervous to walk in by myself but I was silly to be. They were all really happy to see me, and we all pray together and chat after. I was amazed at how welcomed I felt. I’m trying to get Omar to go with me sometime. I’m praying 5 times a day for the most part, and have finished memorizing the opening Sura of the Koran, Al-Fatihah. That was a big day for me. It wasn’t easy lol. I made it my goal to finish it by Tabaski and I DID IT! Speaking of tabaski that was so much fun. I celebrated with Issaka at his house. In the morning Issaka, his little brother, little sister, and I all went to the prayer. When we got there Issaka went off with Yameogo and the men and I stay with the kids and Madame Yameogo. It was great. Everyone was really happy to see me, and greeted me so much. An old lady even gave me an Islamic rosary. I have no idea how to use it but it was still pretty special. After the prayer we went back home and started to cook. We made spaghetti and rice and sheep. People came over and ate and kids came over to get candy. Once that died down a bit I went out to greet my friends and went over to so many people’s houses. Fatimata even did my henna for me. It was pretty awesome. I ran into Ismael and we drank wine with the guys and Gabriel. Ismael came over and I served him a plate and we told Issaka that were were going dancing that night. Ismael and I went dancing until 2 a.m. Then he walked me home and it was the end of a really fantastic day.

·          Upcoming events/ projects·         MY BIRTHDAY! Exactly one week until I turn 24! I’m currently in Ouaga for the food security meeting and then Monday I’m heading to Boulsa with Nate to spend the week there with him. On Friday we are heading to Fada to celebrate Thanksgiving and my birthday! I'm hoping to get my sand read while I’m there. We’ll see what he says.·         Tomorrow Su-dawg is coming to Ouaga and we are going to celebrate my birthday/ go shopping for shoes and matching fabric to be matching on Christmas. She says that she wants to spend Christmas in Yoro so we are going to do that I think. Not sure what’s up for New Year’s Eve yet. I’ll probably go to Ouaga with Issaka. ·          Omar, the guys, and I are starting a community garden. I’m working on the grant so that we can start ASAP·         Gabriel’s brother talked to me about wanting to start a garden at the school for the kids so when I get back to site we are going to sit down and find out if it will be possible. ·         Yameogo and I have been talking a lot about getting funding to finish the school. That’s definitely going to be finished before I leave this country. ·         Got a lot of big projects that I’m trying to do in my last 10 months here.·         Hopefully going to figure out if I can stat a 3rd year pretty soon. Will update that as soon as I figure it outI think that for the most part that’s all that’s been going on here.