It's been a year since I've been in Ouahigouya but damn, does it feel good to be back. There's something to be said about spending your first three months in a foreign country and calling it "home" -- and coming back after a year elsewhere, it feels like...well, it feels like home. Like going back to the US. I guess it's that sense of nostalgia that's tied to Ouahigouya that's made me feel so comfortable.
Anyway, PST (Pre-Service Training) for the new group of Trainees is finally here and I got here a week before their arrival (around the middle of June) to help prepare with our Technical Trainers, Diallo and Awa. They are absolutely amazing and it's bizarre being on the other side of the training realm. Hectic, exhausting but enjoyable all at the same time!
Before really getting in the full swing of things, Gwen, Marita, Ilana and I headed to my host family's village (Komsilga) to visit the host family!! I was so excited and anxious at the same time -- it's been a year since being there. Fortunately, Ilana was with us and her Moore is really good. Long story short, what I thought would be a quick "hello-bonjour" visit for no more than 30 minutes turned into a three-hour ordeal of greeting everyone. I almost forgot how long greetings were in the north of BF! Greeting the chef (village chief) and the rest of the village community was exhausting but something that I really, really miss, especially since the people in the south where I live are less keen to greet. When I went to visit my host family, it was just as I had left it, except my host grandfather was there. Man, talk about feeling like I was at home for a bit.
My host dad, Mamadou and I, next to the new mosque built at Komsilga, my old host village. My my, how things have changed! But my host dad is still the same -- laughing all the time!
Fast-forward to June 23, I was lucky enough to go meet the new Trainees (Peace Corps Trainees = PCTs) at the airport in Ouaga. It was overwhelming seeing 57 Americans walk out of the airport and start their two years of Peace Corps service. Fielding all of their questions was quite the experience -- I forgot how many questions I asked as a PCT! We headed up to Ouahigouya, had a great welcome ceremony and started the nine-weeks of training. I don't even know where to begin in describing the hecticness of PST but what I do know is that I love it. In total, there are 79 PCTs here in Burkina Faso and it's the first time that all four sectors (Secondary Education, Girls' Education and Empowerment, Small Enterprise Development and Community Health) are coming together at the same time. Love being busy, meeting new people and getting PCTs acclimated to their new life. Sure, there were a few unfortunate glitches in our training but for the most part, things have been going well! The idea of the Peace Corps family is what keeps me (and everyone else) going.
Come July 4, the Peace Corps helped organized our celebration in Ouaga. Cake, cold sodas and beers, burgers, potato salad and chilling by the pool = the perfect July 4th celebration! I also came to the realization that this is my second time celebrating July 4th out of the US. Crazy!
Audrey and I chilling at the pool during the July 4th celebration. Second one for me outside the US!
I'm heading back to site after being gone for almost a month. I'll be having a few GEE PCTs come to my site next weekend for demystification. Demystification (or demyst, for short) is where PCTs visit a current PCVs' site and see how their life is like for a couple days. I'm a little nervous for that seeing as how I haven't been to site for a while due to PST, plus no one will be there since the school year's over and everyone either heads back to the big cities or visits their family in Cote d'Ivoire and elsewhere. Wish me luck!
Note: All pictures are taken courtesy of Gwen, the picture queen. Seriously, she takes pictures all the time and I love it.