Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SENGAL

So, I have been in Sengal for two weeks now (I know sorry for the late posts but my computer for some reason won't hook up to the internet here in Thies so for now I am borrowing some one elses computer).

So here is a quick update as I am getting bombarded with mosquitoes. The first week in Thies was eye opening. The city is raw with concrete and unfinished building with colorful trash littering the streets. There are also no driving rules. Its sad and beautiful at the same time.

We had to take a two hour bus ride from Dakar to Thies but were greeted by the amazing Thies staff upon arriving. Tam tams (miniature drums) were blaring, people were dancing and singing. It was really one welcome experience. But being as I had been up for the past 24 hours all I wanted to do was get a little nap in before heading to our first Peace Corps training session.

The day from there is a bit boring as we just sat around listening to welcomes and what to do and not to do (there is a lot of this and most of it is very helpful). This pattern of sitting and listening and questioning persisted through out the first week of training as we began medical training, received shots, got malaria meds and our first survival language classes. In this case that language is Wolof. You've probably never heard of it.

Thhe first week went by fast and in no time I was told I was going to be learning Pullo fuuta, a local language spoken through out Africa (in variations) but mostly in the South of Senegal. Yes, Naomi if your reading this we will be able to communicate in the local tongues if I rememeber correctly (A Jarrama! Tan Alla?). With my language I leanred I was to be living with a host family in Sangal Kam, a smaller city just outside Dakar.

In Sangal Kam my family is awesome. They named me after their eldest son Elhadji Mamoudou Baa (at least that's how I think you spell it). Anyway, they are awesome and nightly help me with my pullo futta. The compound I live in is actually pretty nice. There is electricity and a faucet with water. As far as I am concerned I am sitting pretty.

My schedule usually is filled with language classes in the morning (9 till 1) then home for lunch and a little nap before more class at 4 till 6. After class I either garden in the school garden we are starting or run off to the sand pitch to play some football with the kids before breaking the fast for Ramadan with my host family. Its a simple and beautiful life but don't get things mixed up I am working hard to learn pullo futta as fast as possible.

It is very discouraging to not be able to communicate easily with 95% of the people around you. On the other hand this is great for learning a new language since I am forced to speak and experiment with what I have just learned. Thank goodness everyone I've run into has been more than willing to laugh at me, teach me or both.

I know this is a very brief and general over view of what I have been going through over the past two weeks but to tell you the truth there is just to much to tell. Everything is new from the toilette (turkish google it) to the culture. There is a lot to learn and unfortunately I have not had the time to play with my computer in order figure out why i can't connect to the internet.

For now I hope this will suffice and I will try and get my computer up and running so I may give you guys more info about my where-a-bouts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Becomming a Peace Corps Trainee

I have finally in Washington DC and after a short trip on the metro I am at the Holiday Inn on Fairview. So, far so good as I was surprised to meet my first Peace Corps peer, Rachel from Colorado. The introductions were short lived with Rachel as I had to check in and get ready for dinner and drinks with Pontius and plus I really wasn't expecting anyone else to get to the hotel as early as me.

Upon my return to the hotel at around 11:30pm I felt bad about missing dinner and the arrival of other volunteers when, to my surprise 11 or so volunteers were gathered in the lobby of the hotel. We exchanged glances and made eye contact before finally asking, “Peace Corps?” and answering “Peace Corps.” I've finally met a portion of the 65 or so volunteers who will be traveling with me to Senegal. The fun would only continue the next day (Aug. 9) when registration begins at noon.

Sure enough on the dot it was 12 o'clock and the lobby of the Holiday Inn was stuffed with massive backpacks and luggage. The Peace Corps vounteers had arrived. So, naturally introductions began and no one really remembered each others names. Regirstration consisted of turning in the papers we were told to sign and siging more documents such as our new government passports. Pretty dull stuff but because of the new energy in the building brought by the excitement of fresh Peace Corps volunteers the process went by very quickly

2:00pm and it was time to sit down and begin with our lessons about safety, threats, anxiety, aspirations and overall what to expect during our service mixed in with the occassional ice breaker. Over all, everyone dealing with the same anxietys of learning a new language, being accepted, etc... It was nothing new but definitely comforting to know I was no where near the only on who was feeling this way.

7:00pm Regristration is finished and its back to square one. People are sort of wandering aimlessly attempting to stick around long enough to know what everyone else is doing for dinner (I must admit I was definitely apart of this group). Fortunately, it didn't take long and we decided on a micro-brew place called Rocky Bottom. $2.75 house brews and a menu filled with meat was all it took for us to be happy. My official last dinner in america consisted of 2 pints of beer (1 Kolsch, 1 Pale Ale) and a prime rib sandwhich with horseradish sauce and cheddar cheese accmpanied with kettle chips. Delicious.

It's now late 1:13am and I have to be up and ready by 8:15am for shots (yellow fever to be exact). I'm a little concerrned my bags will be overweight (again I don't think I am the only one). Hoever, I am not sure I want my bags to be overweight so, sorry mom and dad but I may be donating a few things to the Holiday Inn. My plan is to take my bags to the weight room in the hotel and weigh them there. I think I'm gonig to need a miracle though. But for now, je suis fatigue and I will attempt to write and post another blog in Senegal since I will be staying at the Thies training center for the next couple of days before being transferred to my first host family. Wish me luck.

P.S. If you are going to write letter DO NOT FORGET TO NUMBER THEM because sometime they don't get to Senegal and I don't want you to think I am blowing you off.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Final Week at Home

My final week in America has been full of emotion from the goodbyes of friends in Santa Barbara to the hugs and kisses from my parents in Kona. I can't believe the amount of emotions that are running through me as I frantically prepare and repair everything I can possibly think of for my adventure to Senegal. I feel as though I am unprepared, unqualified, and not ready at all to live in Senegal for the next 27 months. So, thank you to those who saw me this past week and said good bye. You have no idea how much it means to me to know that you care and possibly support my decision.

So, for now I would like to take some time to thank those who have pushed me to be my best and, as I have heard so many times recently, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

First off, of course, are my parents. With out them I would never have been dreamt up or created. I thank you for taking me to all of the practices, games, college, high school, and the list goes on and on and on so long that I probably couldn't cover it all in just one blog post. I love you guys so much and there is no quantity great or grand enough to sum up how grateful and happy I am that you, Dennis and Claudia, are my parents. Your the best (not only for getting me the best seat in coach, window seat on the emergency exit) for always supporting me, caring for me, and putting up with my antics even if I did at times release my Velcro leash and run around crazy. You've always chased after me and brought me back. I love you.

Next, are my brother and sister for allowing me to learn from their mistakes (I guess that is the beauty of being the youngest child). Thank you, for being great people and setting good examples for me to follow and try to surpass. You've created a good path for me to follow and branch off from. I love you guys.

And last but not least are my friends. I don't know where I would be with out my friends. You guys are my second family as we share times as high as a National Championship and low as a one of us going to prison we pulled together and we always there for each other. Thank you for taking care of me (especially you Meredith). Please, keep in touch I promise I will write back. I wish you guys the best in all of your future endeavors and I hope one day I will see each and everyone of you guys again.

Well, its getting late and I've got full belly of Paiea. Next, stop Washington, D.C.


Side note: My address for training will be (i.e. the first 3 months in Senegal):

PCT Christopher J. Cintas
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 299
Thi├Ęs, Senegal
West Africa