Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The trainees come for a visit...

Every year during PST, the new trainees either do a site visit or do something called 'demystification' (or 'demyst' for short). Demyst consists of a small group of trainees, accompanied with their language teacher, who visit a current Volunteer for a couple of days to see how life is like in Burkina Faso. It's a great way to get a better idea of how your life will be like for the next 2 years...also, it's a way to get away for a couple of days from the hecticness/craziness that is PST!

When they arrived on Friday in the afternoon, it was pouring rain. I mean, raining cats and dogs to the extreme! There were mini 'streams' all around my house and I was drenched as I biked to meet them on the main road. When they arrived I could tell they were completely exhausted because it was their first time on transport in Burkina. We ended up relaxing and snacking at my house. One of the trainees, Paula, used to teach Yoga around the world, so we did some Yoga at my school -- that hurts! I did Bikram Yoga with one of my best friends once a couple of years ago. That was intense but the Yoga I did in Burkina...for some reason, my body could feel it more. Anyway, I had the trainees get water at my pump for the first time. Absolutely hilarious! As nightfall hit, my neighbors came by and cooked the national dish of Burkina Faso -- -- with leaf sauce. has the consistency of jello and grits & looks like mashed potatoes. Hard to explain but actually really good -- really, it depends on the sauce.

Getting water at my pump! Talk about a workout. Seriously!

Some of the trainees enjoying tô with leaf sauce. So good! You can see my neighbor, Madame Constance, to the left of the picture.

Saturday was the big day where we did a long walking tour of my site. We met all the authorities that were there (the mayor, the police, etc.) and I was able to show them centre-ville (downtown, but not in the American sense...don't get it twisted, haha), the market, etc. Before the trainees arrived, I talked to the Directors of my high school and primary school, asking if I could borrow the classroom keys so the trainees can observe a typical Burkinabe classroom and make their observations/comparisons. So we were able to do that as well. In the end, it was an absolutely tiring and busy day, however, I think they got a better idea of how their lives would be like for the next 2 years.

At the sign nearby my house. Getting ready for a day full of walking and getting to know my site.

At the end of the day on my porch with some of the neighborhood kids (including a couple from my Girls' Club!).

Sunday was the final day and I offered the opportunity to see Jon's site. Jon was up in Ouaga teaching English at a summer camp-type thing, but we have the keys to each other's house, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for the trainees to see more of a village (since my site is more of a small town). Jon's counterpart, Papa, is seriously the best -- super motivated and willing to go above and beyond his 'call of duty,' so to speak. I texted him the night before, asking if he'd be able to give us a little tour. We saw Jon's house, dropped by the church, saw the market/common meeting grounds area and also took a look at the lake. Coming back, it was more relaxed and Jillian (another GEE volunteer in my area) came by to speak with the trainees on her life here, the activities she's implemented at site and to answer any questions they had -- all under my neighbors' big, shady tree. And Rachid made them try traditional African tea (3 glasses, which each consecutive glass getting sweeter and sweeter)! For dinner, I invited my neighbors and Frederic, the French volunteer at my site, to eat some American and Mexican food...totally improvised. We had tuna pasta salad, grilled 'cheese' sandwiches, village tacos (thank God for taco seasoning from the US!) and cucumbers with vinegar and black pepper. Mmmmm!
This is at Jon's site which has a little lake. The trainees are with Papa, Jon's homologue.

Drinking dolo, local millet beer here in Burkina Faso.

The trainees trying African tea for the first time. That courtyard under the tree is where I probably spend most of my time (chez the Ouattaras). Rachid's laughing in the background!
Mixing tuna pasta salad. With no electricity and multiple ingredients, it apparently takes 3 people! This picture is deceiving because it was super dark.

Grace-Victoire, the baby daughter of Madame Constance. So cute!

I'm a hot, sweaty mess but look at how cute Grace-Victoire looks!
The next day was our long journey back to the new training site in Koudougou, the third largest town in Burkina Faso (after Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulassso but before Ouahigouya). It was my first time traveling to the western part of the country and so far, I'm liking it!
Overall, I will say that preparing for demyst was stressful. I only had a day or two to prepare, meaning telling everyone at my site that they'd be coming, cleaning my house like no other (I regularly sweep my house but this time around, I cleaned everything) and just running around like crazy. But in the end, it was all worth it and I had an amazing time with the trainees and their language teacher. We're even thinking of doing a little reunion once they become settled in their sites and are official Peace Corps Volunteers!
More importantly, demyst made me appreciate my site that much more. Now that I'm moving on to my second and final year here in Burkina Faso, I feel like my footing on the ground much more solid and that, my friends, is an amazing feeling (especially if you look at me from a year ago)!

1 comment:

MeganElizabeth said...

Michael! Wow! Looking at you and the new Americans, it's obvious that there is a difference and you have well adapted to BF! You look very comfortable at your home, and the trainees look so cute!! :) I also love how much you talked about food in your blog post! hehe Love you! xoxo