Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 29 - Whoa dude, one month!

So the advice of the experienced volunteers is right! The first two weeks truly crawled by - with the only a continuous barrage of Hausa language classes to separate the days. But, as we were told would happen, and starting with our 'demystification' trip, the last two weeks have flown by.

Demyst is a 5 day journey into the bush of Niger that trainees take to stay with a currently serving volunteer. The point is to give us a glimpse of what life might actually be like  as a full volunteer at post. So our training group broke up into small groups (ours being 6 people but most just 2 or 3) to then take buses from Niamey out to wherever our host volunteers lived.

We took a 10 hour bus ride East to the Maradi region, also known as the start of Hausa-land. We spent three great nights getting spoiled with amazing food and the good company of Bob and Megan. We were excited to not only get to see part of Hausa-land but also get a couple's perspective on PC life. Bob and Megan have an impressive concession with 3 moringa trees they planted at the start of their service, (by the way if you've never heard of a moringa tree, google it, now, it could possibly be THE perfect tree) tomato plants, basil, and sweet potato that they water with diluted grey water. They took time to teach us how to make some incredible meals including: bean burgers with moringa leaves and laughing cow cheese, hummus with fresh garlic and onions, pasta, couscous with peanut sauce, sweet potato fries with homemade ketchup, eggs, and crepes. All made without running water or electricity mind you - Fantastic!! We are so excited for when we can start experimenting with new foods and recipes in our own concession.

Bob and Megan have done incredible work in their community as well, including: farmer field school - where people in the village planted various plots of similar seeds to determine the best option for their particular soil. They are now planting a naturally selected improved bean that they call 'kadija' (megan's Hausa name). They have also planted several new trees, helped fund a grain grinder, and helped fix and get men from the village trained in how to fix the foot-pump for the well. So basically they are a spectacular couple who we were very excited to get to know and spend some time asking questions about the volunteer life. Bob and Megan are heading home next month with the intent of future grad studies and the hope of starting a family of their own - we wish them the best and hope they understand how much we appreciated their generosity during our time with them, not to mention the incredible impact they have had on their community.

Today we are spending the morning at the PC training site for our first one-on-one oral language test (LPI) and our site interviews where we are able to speak with our program manager's about site preferences.

The next big thing on the horizon is our 2 weeks of language immersion starting next saturday. After our LPI today they will split us into new language groups based on our abilities (similar levels  together) which will also be the group we travel in for immersion. All Hausaphones will be traveling East to Hausa-land (Maradi, Zinder, & og) and the Zarmaphones will stay here in the Western part of Niger.

Oh! And if anyone feels like sending something, dried fruit and/or granola bars would be amazing! (or any other yumminess you can think of) :) Our address is on the first blog and padded envelopes seem to be the best bet.

So that's it for now! Sai anjima :)

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