Friday, December 18, 2009

GEE IST : the lovefest begins again

[X] Surviving first three (3) months at site

Wow, I can't believe I've lived more than 3 months at site! I've been waiting for Inter-Service Training (IST) in Ouaga for a long while now for a few reasons: to reunite with my GEE Peace Corps family (really, it's a lovefest); to take a little break from site; and gain some practical skills to bring back to site!

We all came in on Monday and had sessions everyday (pretty much like Pre-Service Training all over again) from Tuesday to Friday. The first night of IST, we had dinner at Doug's (our Country Director's) house which brought back good memories of the time we had dinner at Doug's the first night we arrived in Burkina Faso as fresh-off-the-plane Trainees. His wife and him were so accommodating and their house was filled with Christmas decor...with a Christmas tree! Man, it made me really miss home and my family but made me even more appreciative of the Peace Corps family I've made here half a world away. We had some delicious Mexican food with Christmas music playing in the background. I wanted us to take a "family portrait" by the Christmas tree...thanks to Doug and his wife for taking the pictures you see below:

Peace Corps Burkina Faso GEE 'Stage' 2009-2011
Dinner at Doug's house (Country Director)

Your stereotypical family portrait...Peace Corps style. I love us!

IST was, to me, a fairly huge success. While the structure itself was much like PST (long days of back-to-back sessions going from 7:00/8:00-17:00/18:00), most of our sessions revolved around practical skills that we could take back to our sites now that we've completed our Etude du Milieu (a gigantic document that we each did that analyzed our community and assessed its needs during our first 3 months at site). Aside from sharing our own experiences at site and working on Action Plans for our next 6 months until MSC (Mid-Service Conference), we had sessions on:

  • HIV/AIDS sensibilizations (awareness raising sessions)
  • community gardens/planting Moringa & other fruits and vegetables
  • clubs (English, girls' clubs, reading, math, etc.)
  • liquid soap making (a good income generating activity for women's groups)
  • community radio and theatre sensibilizations
  • and many other things I don't quite remember because I'm getting old =)
Below are some pretty good pictures of some of us during the liquid soap making session:

The inseparable Coleman and Charlie taking a stab at mixing water and salt for our liquid soap making demonstration.

Rachel, Leslie and Molly are all smiles at IST.

Jessi and Julie helping with the initial step for preparing liquid soap.

Colette, Devin and I being the great observers that we are...

This picture cracks me up for multiple reasons...we're all doing different things except for Colette. Oh Colette and your silly facial expressions. =)

'Random' should be added to the list of the top 50 words to describe the Peace Corps. Doug, our Country Director, came into our IST training and showed us some live chickens that were given to him by villagers. It turns out Doug just came back from a visit to a Volunteer's site in the region. Little side note: Doug is leaving Burkina Faso in late January 2010 and will be the Peace Corps Country Director in Ukraine! We'll miss him.

Needless to say, IST has been great! It's helped keep the ball rolling for me, giving me ideas to implement at my site. IST has also given me and everyone else an outlet to express ourselves in a way that only we can understand. We may all be living in different villages/cities with unique experiences but the basics remain the same. And more importantly, it's been a chance to reunite with fifteen others that I've grown tremendously close to in the past 6 months and will continue to as 2010 and 2011 approach.

Julie, Marita, Emily and Leslie made each of us a cute little snowman with characteristics that are particular to us. Note the placement of Volunteers/snowpeople between the two things. Creativity, I tell you!

Also, I leave for Ghana with Devin and Colette early tomorrow morning! Hello 20-hour bus ride! Awww man, it's going to be so exciting! Blogging will for sure happen, granted I have access to the Internet. Hooray!!

1 comment:

camillleee said...

belated merry christmas mikey! miss and love you so!