Thursday, March 31, 2011

COS Conference...24 months in the making!

I realize that I'm WAY behind in blogging. But things have been so crazy and overwhelming and everything all combined in one that I haven't had the chance to sit down and write a blog...or enough time to upload pictures for that matter.

Anyway, at the end of March was the last of my training group's conferences...our COS (Close Of Service) Conference. Which essentially signified the beginning of the end of our Peace Corps tour here in Burkina Faso. And, bittersweetly, the last time our whole training group would get together in Burkina Faso.

The COS Conference was led by Ellie, an RPCV from Turkey, and it was so well organized. Most of it was focusing on the future -- getting back into the job market, how to concisely explain your Peace Corps experience, résumé and cover letter prep, grad school options, etc. All of it was extremely helpful and put me in the right transitional mindset.

After our three day conference, we had our COS Party which was equally amazing! Good food, good music, good company. Got a guest appearance from Floby (kind of like the Justin Timberlake of Burkina Faso...okay, maybe that's a horrible comparison but just to give you all an idea) and just danced the night away!

Floby, himself! Making an appearance at our COS Party before flying to Morocco that same night for some concert.

Our Southwest family! The people I see pretty much every weekend in Gaoua. Will miss you all!

The four from Special K a.k.a. Komsilga. We roughed it through training together in 2009 and still managed to not kill each other, haha! But seriously, lots of love in the picture.

On a sentimental and pensive note, it's amazing to think that I met these 31 strangers in early June 2009, not knowing anyone and none of us really knowing what we'd get ourselves in to. Two years and three months later, I would have never thought these group of people would be my biggest support network here in Burkina Faso. We've really grown to be a family of sorts, and while we may all have our little cliques amongst our group, when it comes down to it, we're always there for each other. Call us the 'Kumbaya stage' (training group), if you will. Because we are!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Favorite kids, foutou and first rain of the season (I think...).

Things here in Burkina Faso have been both crazy and calm at the same time...long story short, an incident that happened in Koudougou (the third largest city in BF) involving a police officer and student in high school have created mass demonstrations in Ouaga, Bobo and other parts of the country. Because of that, school (from the pre-school level all the way up to the university level) has been canceled to prevent students (particularly high school and university students) from mobilizing and creating mass demonstrations throughout the country. School has been canceled since pretty much the beginning of March (maybe even a little earlier -- my sense of time has now been completely thrown off since school hasn't been in session).

Fortunately, it doesn't affect the villages (where most PCVs are placed) so all seems well. And since the beginning of March (or whenever this started), things have seemed to calm down a bit. In the meantime, I've been working on my CEP Jeopardy Review Guide (the CEP is the exam primary school students need to pass in order to continue to the middle school level)...more on that later!!

Anyway, here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Grace, Yesi and I. They're so freakin' cute!

Grace and Yesi again! SO cute! (I realize I use the word 'cute' too much...) far one of my most favorite dishes in Burkina Faso. It's kind of like a thick, thick version of mashed potatoes made out of yams that are boiled and pounded. The sauce that my neighbors make (with tomatoes, eggplant, onions, spices, fish/meat) is absolutely delicious. This night, my neighbors made it because they know I absolutely LOVE it. Mmmm...

Brenda and I standing outside after what seemed like the first rain of the season. Of course, it's not BUT it was great to think that for a little bit.

In a couple of weeks, I have a few big things going on: come March 28-30, it'll be my COS (close-of-service) Conference in Ouaga where my training group will meet for the last time in country before all of us part ways. We still have a bit to go until our actual COS date (in August) but this COS Conference is more for a way for everyone in my training group to discuss our experiences together and how we can move forward and bring them back to the US. Exciting! Immediately after, I'll be participating in a workshop at the American Language Center -- it'll be a crash course on how to Teach English as a Foreign Language which I'm also really excited about. Afterward is the MAP (Men As Partners) Conference with one of my good friends at site, Nazaire (who coincidentally is the President of the parent's association at my primary school + a very involved community member at my site). It'll be hosted by the GAD (Gender and Development Committee) for Peace Corps (Jon's committee) and we'll be discussing ways that we can implicate women and girls in community activities, and educate men and boys on the importance to involve women and girls as well. Lots to look forward to!