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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Staging so far and Homestay Ho!

Things I have learned in training:
-how we will filter and treat our water (bucket filters and chlorine)
-all about malaria and even how to do a blood smear
-all about "Mr. D" aka diarrhea (it WILL happen and many times)
-how to use the bathroom w/out toilet paper, squat and aim better
-basics on how to maintain a mountain bike (we get our bikes tomorrow!!)
-about the different stages of culture shock (it will be a roller coaster of emotions)
-what to do in emergencies (anything from natural disasters to political instability). You can all rest easy now!
-how to eat with my hands around a bowl, sort of...
-basic Water and Sanitation overview and tour :) Learned about the objectives of the WATSAN sector of Peace Corps
-how to conduct a baseline survey in village to assess their level of water and sanitation
-how to wash my own clothes ( I washed my first pants by hand!)
-basic greetings in the main language of Mali, Bambara
-to have a brief conversation in three different languages (Bambara, French, and English)
-never wave, eat, pay for things, or much of anything besides wipe with your left hand
-most Malians don't wash their hands. They believe it will wash away their wealth.
-if you get a pet cat, Malian kids may like to sling shot its' eyes out
-it's not okay to smell your food
-you should not compliment a Malian woman for being pregnant
-the rains and Africa can be wicked (well, I already sort of knew that...)
-posting pictures on PC computers is pretty much impossible...(I will try..)
-plenty of other things but won't bore you with too many other details

1. I'm going to run a marathon in Ghana next September with a few people in my "stage" (PC training class)!!
2. I got a cell phone and will get my number tomorrow. It is free for me if you call me. I don't know what service will be like in my site but while in training it should be good. Look up skype if you are interseted :)
3. There is a girl, Sarah, in my training class that graduated from Purdue the same time as me. We sung Hail Purdue today!! :) Wonder if that has ever been sung in Mali....

We will be leaving for our homestay villages tomorrow morning (so far all the PCTs have been staying in Tubaniso, a training camp outside of Bamako). The homestay villages will also be located outside of Bamako but we are each placed with a seperate Malian family (some with the chiefs of the villages). I am in Soundougouba (Soon-dugu-ba) with most of the other WATSAN volunteers!! We will be there through next Sunday, so no blog postings until then. During homestay we will have intensive language training everyday. I will be learning the most commonly spoken language in Mali...Bambara (no, not French). I'm really excited!


  1. Ah, and since I just returned from a similar experience for one month (which very nearly made my left hand use habitual), I can only imagine what years will mean for you, my dear!

    Fascinating that the cultural taboos are nearly identical to Nepal. Enjoy the acculturation!

  2. Awesome updates Colleen!! Looks like you've started QUITE the adventure!! Good luck!!

    Also: be VERY careful of malaria!! I'm just getting over a case from Papua New Guinea myself, and let me tell you: it SUCKS!!