Remember this a year ago? I was in the trainees' shoes, waiting for PST to end as quickly as possible so I could get the hell over to my site! It's funny how things never really change.
So yes. The homestretch. It's here and it's an atmosphere full of anxiety/sadness/happiness/etc. all combined into one big clump. Tech sessions are coming to a close, trainees' language levels in French and local language have improved dramatically and people are starting to realize that the next 2 years of their service are ahead of them.
For me, it's been both enjoyable and exhausting. Exhausting in that the preparation since May and the execution of it all these past few months (planning sessions, facilitating sessions, answering questions 24/7, being known as a constant resource, etc. etc. The list is really endless!) have been constant. Many times, I'd get frustrated but realize that I just have to go with the flow as this is a new experience for everyone (Trainees and PCVF/Ps). This training group, however, has been quite the exception. The first training group in Peace Corps Burkina Faso history where we've had all 4 sectors (Secondary Ed, Health, Small Enterprise Development and Girls' Education and Empowerment) all come at once. We've also moved to 3 different training sites in a matter of 9 weeks (Ouahigouya, Ouaga and Koudougou) but regardless, everyone's spirits have been up (for the most part) and they're all another addition to the PC/BF family.
At the end of the day though, I realize how much I truly enjoy doing this. Working PST has made me more appreciative of my life here in BF, the obstacles I've had to overcome and the successes that have kept me going. It's hard not to put yourself in their shoes and remember what you went through a year ago.
I also feel so proud of them! I've seen them since the beginning and have noticed some crazy growth these past 9 weeks. Seeing them conduct their club meetings, coordinate their youth camps, teach Life Skills...it's utterly amazing! And to think of the great work they'll do once they get situated at their sites.
Jessi, Emily and I. Love these women!
GEE Tech Team, Week 7. This was one of my favorite weeks because the trainees got to put their knowledge into practice -- final Girls' Club meetings, Youth Camps, teaching Life Skills and conducting their needs assessment meetings with the parent associations. Huzzah! By the way, our two GEE Tech Trainers/Coordinators are Awa and Diallo. They're so amazing!!
In the midst of all of this, International Youth Day in Burkina Faso was celebrated with a huge Tree Planting Extravaganza in Dori. Because there were so many people, the tree planting itself took less than 20 minutes! But it was a great event to meet other Burkinabè youth and other volunteers (Japanese, French, etc.) here in Burkina Faso. It was also great to develop an even better rapport with the Burkinabè government and it seems as if the Minister of Youth and Employment absolutely loves the Peace Corps. It's great!
Free shirts and hats...and ready to work!
Some of us Peace Corps Volunteers who could attend the Tree Planting. The woman in the middle of this picture is Dr. Claude, the Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) for Health.
With a new friend, Frederic, planting some trees.
Working that daba! Note the Peace Corps logo on the back of the tee shirt.
This may looks disgusting but it made for a good photo. =)
In other news, the last weekend before Swear-In, our whole GEE team took a trip about 25 km to Sabou. There's a lake filled with sacred crocodiles but I felt as though they were accustomed to the massive amounts of tourists. It started off with one of the guys that worked there luring the crocodiles with a dead chicken at the end of a long piece of rope. Eventually, it would really the crocodiles in and...well...we all got to take pictures next to it!
Sacred crocodiles in Sabou. I'm touching its tail! Holy @%#$!
The whole experience itself was a little anticlimactic BUT I enjoyed it nonetheless and it's just another thing I can check off my list.