Last week as a Trainee
We have reached the end of our “formation” to become Peace Corps volunteers. It seem like it has been a long time coming for many of us, but for others we still wish there was more time to become more proficient in French or in the local language, the traditional language of our region. Pretty exciting and pretty scary at the same time. We will be forced to speak French because there will be very few people, if any, who know any English. There have probably been more staff, current volunteers, and language and cultural trainers working to get us ready than there are trainees, although we are quite a big group. They have all worked very hard to get us ready to go out into Burkina Faso and work for the good of the people here.
The transition from Peace Corps Trainee to Peace Corps Volunteer is marked by a swearing in ceremony that, in Burkina Faso, took place at the US Embassy on August 27. It was a really nice event that included lots of Burkinabé dignitaries. The most important was the Burkina first lady, Madame Chantal Compaoré, who made a very nice speech. Clearly she is aware of the work we are doing here and appreciates it. The head of the National Party also spoke and his speech also showed his appreciation of our work as he reviewed all the programs we are doing here. There was entertainment by a group of women who did a traditional African dance to drums and singing. It included pairs of women dancing around each other and ending with two very solid “bumps.” Six of the trainees did short speeches in the native languages they have been learning, which was a big hit with the audience. Finally the 76 trainees swore in as volunteers, repeating the same oath of office the president says when he is sworn in. A pretty emotional moment for all of us, I think.
The ceremony was followed by a reception which was a time to let us congratulate each other, but also a time to thank our trainers and tutors for all their work to get us to this place. The host families were also invited to attend and several did, including my host mother and the teen aged girl, Salome, who has been looking after me for the past four weeks and who is now other of my extra granddaughters. It was really special to see them all there.
Now all the volunteers are being taken to their various sites all over the country. I am not allowed to put the name of my village on the blog, for security reasons, but I am pretty excited about finally getting to meet the people of the village where I will be working and to see my home for the next two years. Any village (or town) that wants to have a volunteer must provide housing for that volunteer. I understand mine is a new house, which should be really nice. As expected there is no electricity or running water, which means I will have to get water from a pump and either go to bed with the sun or read and study by lamp light. Sounds a bit romantic, but I expect it will not be easy to read that way. I will tell you all about it next time.