Sunday, July 26, 2009

End of Training

Training is officially (almost!) over! We left our CBT sites on Friday and are now in the city shopping for home furnishings for our new houses in our new sites and getting ready to swear in as official volunteers. Leaving home stay was even sadder than I had anticipated it to be. I knew that it was going to be difficult to say goodbye to the people and families I had gotten close to and formed relationships with, but when it actually happened it just about broke my heart. The people there took such great care of me, and treated me like family. I could feel their support for me, and their investment in helping me learn. There was a mutual understanding and respect that I hadn’t anticipated, one, happening so fast, and two, affecting me so deeply. I am going to miss the village and the people immensely, but I have every intention of going back to visit over the next two years.

On a different note, a few other happenings the last few weeks of home stay are worth mentioning (mainly because they’re funny and help illustrate what living conditions are like). First, one night while sleeping soundly in my hammock (on my side) I was woken up by (what I thought was) the sensation of something crawling up my back. As I began to reach a more complete state of wakefulness I realized that it was real, and was moving towards my head! A mouse (or rat, I like to assume mouse) had managed to get through my mosquito net and was literally climbing up my neck. I, of course, started thrashing around and screaming. It ran away, and I spent the next 30 minutes sitting in my house trying to figure out what had just happened. Another night a frog hopped into my house and I couldn’t get it out for about 2o minutes. A teenage girl halfheartedly tried to put a beetle the size of palm on my leg. In addition to the many, many, mosquito and mypia bites on the lower half of my legs, I got an ant bite that blistered and turned into the worst infection I’ve had in my life (thank goodness we have an awesome Peace Corps Medical Officer). Also, two separate children pooped on my porch! Some of this I laughed at while it was happening, but I laugh at all of it now. :)

Now as I get ready to leave for my new community I need to gear myself back up to start all over, but this time with a few different challenges. For starters the language becomes relatively different the further upriver you go. Closer to the city the language is mixed with Dutch and their pronunciation is quite different. I’ve reached a point with my language where I can communicate in most situations, but I know that moving upriver I’ll be taking a step back and will need to re-learn a few things. Also, my CBT site was very accustomed to Peace Corps and Americans. Now, I’ll be the first volunteer in my community. Many of the children are genuinely afraid of me. Many of the adults don’t really understand why I’m there or why I’m staying for two years. I won’t have electricity or running water, but I am close to the river. I know that this next transitioning phase is going to be tough, but I’m excited to get it underway. I know that this is an opportunity that I won’t likely get again, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

We have our swearing in ceremony on Wednesday, and the PC staff asked me to give a little talk in the Saamakan language. Yikes! My host family will be there along with all the current volunteers, so I’m feeling the pressure. Wish me luck, and I’ll hopefully have some pictures from the ceremony soon afterwards.
Love Always,

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