Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Install Day!

Okay so I lied. I said that my next post would be from my new home but I'm anxious and jumping the gun. So Jenn and I leave to install in about 45 minutes. I'm nervous/excited/scared/everything! Three of our friends left to install yesterday and they all seemed to have awesome parties awaiting them at their sites. They had goat slaughterings, dancing, speeches, the whole nine yards. I'm really excited to see what my village has cooked up for me. Hopefully it'll be fun and not unbelievably intimidating.

I bought a wireless USB internet card to plug into my laptop and get wireless when I'm in village, but it's not quite up and running just yet, so I'm not sure when the next time I'll have internet will be. I will definitely do a blog post next time I'm able to.

Alright, now really the next time that I post I will be at my site. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Official! I'm a PCV!

So I'm now officially a Peace Corps Volunteer! We had our swearing in on Friday at the US Ambassador's house in Dakar. You can look at a little snipit of the ceremony here:

Here's a shot of my Stage right after we swore in!

And here's the group of the 6 of us that are in the Linguere region! Get used to seeing these faces because they're the people that I'm going to be with for the next two years. It just stinks that I hate all of them. Just kidding. I'm super happy about my group.

Anyway... so we swore in on Friday, then on Saturday most of us headed out. My group left around 2pm and arrived in Linguere at around 7pm. Not a bad drive at all. We're hanging out all together at the regional house for a few days buying things for our new homes and meeting local officials and all that important stuff. We start installing in our new sites TOMORROW! Luckily, my friend Jenn and I are the last two to be installed in our region so we get an extra night of American time together and install on Wednesday.

I'm not really freaking out yet, but I know that the first couple days are going to be really hard. Up until this point I've been able to see my friends and speak English on a regular basis, even when I was living with my homestay family. But once I'm dropped off in my new village it's just me there. Scary. Thankfully Jenn is a 10k bike ride away each way and we both plan on seeing each other as much as possible. Nothing like biking 20k to work of all the rice you eat here.

New volunteers are encouraged to try to spend as much of their first 2 months as possible in their village. I'm going to try as much as I can, but there will be a few times I think I'm going to see my friends (my birthday, possibly)... and the Barcelona-Manchester game on the 28th is a big event as well. We're all REALLLLY excited because everyone gets together for 4th of July, so I know that in less than 2 months I'll be able to see all of my friends and we can swap horror stories. It's gonna be tough, but my new family seems really cool and I have an awesome support system here in Linguere. Also, we get free volunteer-to-volunteer calling, so I have a feeling we'll all be venting to each other quite a bit.

AND now that I'm in my region, I have my address for packages, letters, huge boxes full of American delicacies, etc. It is:

PCV Fae Patton
B.P. 79
Linguere, Louga Region
Senegal, West Africa

If any of you are wonderful enough to entertain the idea of sending me anything, just make sure you send it air mail. Also, flat rate boxes are a wise choice because stuff can get pretty pricey. Currently I'm craving....
  • Anything sweet- peanut butter m&ms or regular m&ms, pepperidge farm soft baked cookies (OH MY GOD!), basically anything sweet
  • MAC AND CHEESE! Boxes of Kraft, or ez mac, really anything even resembling mac and cheese
  • Peanut butter would also be amazing
  • Propel drink mixes. The tiny ones you put in water bottles
  • Salty snacks like goldfish, wheat thins, cheeze-its, etc.
  • Honestly anything American and delicious
  • And tupperware containers would be too good to be true

That's all I got for now. Just trying to get all of my stuff together to move in in 2 days. I need to get my family a present for install and I'm leaning towards a live chicken because they would appreciate it and then I'd get to eat chicken, which is a rare treat here.

Next time I update I'll be living in my new home that I'll be in for the next two years. So weird!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bed Bugs, the Beach and Flea

Hello! I know I've been majorly slacking in the blog posts recently, so I'll try to go over everything that's been happening since Volunteer Visit.

Fist thing we had after VV was Counterpart Workshop, where all of our counterparts from our various villages came to Thies and we had a 2-day conference going over all of the Peace Corps policies, rules, expectations, etc. I was nervous for it ahead of time, but it actually turned out to be a really nice experience.

My two counterparts are a teacher in Mbeulehke's lycee named Mohammed and a boutique owner who works with the local Eaux et Foret named Ale. They both couldn't have been nicer, raved over my "amazing" Wolof, and seem like they're going to be great resources when I move to the village. Mohammed's already called me multiple times since the workshop to ask how my language classes are going, if I'm excited, etc.

After Counterpart Workshop, we all needed a break so we got to go to the beach! We went to Popenguine, which is about an hour away from Thies and honestly the most beautiful place I've ever seen. Google image it and check it out. Here are some stolen pics from other ppl:

So beach weekend was awesome. A few interesting things did happen though, like me getting bed bugs. Nothing can ever go completely perfectly here haha. I woke up covered in bites all over my face, shoulders, chest, etc. I looked REALLY pretty. But the bites went away pretty quickly, so I really have no complaints.

Immediately after we got back to the Training Center from the beach (as in, like an hour later) we piled into the vans and headed back to our homestays. We had our LAST week at the homestays. I can't believe it's already over with my family! Hopefully by the next entry I'll have some pictures of my fam. But here's my language group with our beautiful mural that we painted at the local ecole, and us having a party at my house on our last day...

Now we're back in Thies and preparing for swear-in! I have my final language exam in about an hour. Fingers crossed! We swear-in on Friday the 13th and I had a FABULOUS Senegalese outfit made so I can't wait for everyone to see the pictures. It's gonna be awesome. We're also having a party on Thursday for our host families here at the Training Center. That should be exciting too. My mom won't stop talking about it.

And one final note before I peace out... It's not important, but I feel like it should probably be mentioned.. NO ONE here can understand that my name is Fae. "Faye" (rhymes with eye) is a very common last name here and people just can't get that my first name is Fae and rhymes with hey; so I've been encountering some pretty funny mix ups that I think you good folks back home would enjoy.

For example, we went to a police station in Dakar one day to sign paperwork and offical stuff.. and when it was my turn I go up and my forms say Fab Patton. So obviously I start laughing and explain that that's not my name and the officers are just looking at me with a blank expression like I'm crazy. So there's a good chance I might still be Fab in the Dakar police system.

Also, one of the first days here when we were still learning everyone's names, one of the guys in my Stage mentioned that he always wants to put a "L" in my name and call me Flea. So we all laughed and said that that makes no sense, that putting an "L" in my name would make it Flae, etc. But somehow Flea has stuck with me and that's what all of my friends call me now.

So on any given day here in Senegal I could be called Fae, Ami, Fab, Flea or Mariama and I now will respond to any of those names. Just thought you'd like to know.

Next entry will have some fly pics of me in my Senegalese gear! Get ready!