When discussing the length and time of service, most volunteers swear by the saying that the days pass slowly while the months fly by. In my limited experience at site, I couldn’t agree more. I blinked and my first two months at site were over. My time was spent attempting to complete my pre-IST (in-service training) activities, working at the health post, constantly studying Malinke, and traveling to another region for language seminar. I began branching out more in my community, forging relationships with community members while (inshallah) improving my Malinke at the same time. My pre-IST activities included painting a mural at the health post (see below), interviewing community members to learn about my community, and spending time at the health post to identify possible areas of intervention.
At the end of the month, I traveled with another volunteer in my region to our language seminar. The language seminar was held in another Peace Corps Volunteer’s village, just north of Kedougou in the region of Tambacounda. While the distance between Kedougou and Zach’s site is about the same distance between Chicago and Milwaukee, the Niokolo-Koba National Park which separates the two villages makes the journey a difficult one. After around four-and-a-half to five hours on the unpaved road through the park complete with the car breaking down multiple times, Andrew and I (a fellow Mande speaker in Kedougou) finally made it to language seminar! Falaye, our language and cultural trainer from pre-service training, made the trip to Tamba as well to facilitate the additional language training. The week was spent learning proverbs (elemental to the Mande culture), brushing up on common mistakes, and joining the crowd of community members who gathered at Zach’s compound to watch the World Cup. Huge thanks to Abby and Chad, two agriculture volunteers who so graciously welcomed me into their home for the week!
I’ll be writing another post specifically for July – Malaria Month in Peace Corps Senegal!