Stage is just about to wrap up, and it feels a lot like college during finals week. We had to finish up all of the assignments we had been given, give two separate presentations in French, and are generally exhausted all the time. The good news is that just about everything is done and the only thing that remains are a few administrative sessions detailing our first three months at site and some of the more practical things such as how we get paid and some suggested places to go to purchase things for our future homes. Our official swear-in as volunteers is this upcoming Thursday the 16th at the US Ambassador’s house.
I realized I left the last Results of LPI 2 as a bit of a cliffhanger. Somehow I passed! I scored Inter-Mid, the minimum score needed to swear in as an official volunteer. Again I think I was the beneficiary of a sympathetic listener, but I’ll take what I can get. While I know I have a long way to go with my French I can usually express what I need to express to people to not die at least. In preparing to move out of my host family’s house I found my old flash cards from week 1 or 2 and can happily say that I easily knew all of them. Progress is fun, but slow. I took one last French exam, last week, and received the same score of Inter-Mid.
Though I’ll be operating in French for my upcoming work and interactions with many people, I’ll need to at least learn some of the local language of Gourmancema to fully integrate into my future community. We had three two-hour sessions to introduce ourselves to some of the basics, and let’s just say that there’s nothing quite like learning a totally new language (with totally new sounds) while being taught in another foreign language (French). Suffice to say, I can pretty much just say ‘good morning’ (nfandi) and ‘my name is Scott’ (n yii Scott). I think I’ll focus almost exclusively in French for the first few months at least, and we’ll see how that rolls going forward.
The big news of the last week is that we finally met our counterparts. Each volunteer is assigned an official counterpart who they will be working with at varying degrees at their future job. I’ll be working particularly closely with mine, so I’m happy to say that we get along very well. Plus I hit the jackpot as he speaks very good English! Obviously I need to work on my French, but I was worried that I may have been completely ineffectual for the first few months. He is one of the very few Burkinabe that I have met (besides PC staff) that speaks good English. To know that he can throw in a quick explanation of a conversation after the fact in English is fantastic for me. He’s single and 30 years old, so I assume we’ll probably spend a lot of time together outside of work as well.
Speaking of work, I was able to see exactly the kind of work that I will be able to do with FAIJ as I traveled to visit another volunteer, Daniel, for Tech Week. Daniel also works with the FAIJ program and I was able to ask both him and his counterpart a lot of questions about the program. We also visited two business owners who have received loans (called promoters) – one soap maker and one sign maker.
Oh, and I finally shaved off my beard – it was getting a little too mountain-man for me. I shaved it down to a mustache for a day, which made me look quite creepy, but was fun. There are some hilarious photos that I’ll try to put up.
And one more fellow stagaire blog to check out: Kate – http://www.kandrecovich.blogspot.com