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Saturday, September 12, 2009

N ye wolonteri kura ye!! (I am a new volunteer)

So as most of you know, I was sworn in as an official PCV on Thursday, September 10th at the American Embassy. Thank you for all of you that congratulated me on FB!

It truely was a magnificent and perfect day. The embassy actually has American grass in it (totally unsustainable but cool...) and automatic flush toilets. Most all of the PCTs dressed in fancy Malian clothing, myself included. It was purple of course! (pictures to come soon). The ceremony was very nice and included speaches from our PC country director, the US Ambassador, a representative of the Malian govt., and PCT speeches of each language we learned. Justin gave a speech in Dogon! We took an oath to obey the constitution, protect, and serve.

It felt similar to graduating HS/College. I felt extremely happy and proud to have made it through training and to become an offical PCV. It still is taking some getting used to.

Afterwards we went to the American Club where I watched a movie, ate a delicious lunch (cheeseburgers were consumed along w/ chocolate mousse), swam in and slept by the pool. Pure Heaven! Closer to the evening we went to a hotel in Bamako where we had rented some floor space. I was in a room with 5 mattresses on the floor and 12 people, which was fine since we were out to some clubs in Bamako until 3AM. I danced the night away...and had a blast!

So what is next?
I leave for my site on Tuesday!! A lot of people left this morning already which was actually pretty sad. Our class has really become a family/support system. But we will all see each other at the end of Nov. for Inservice Training (IST) which will be much more technical and some language.

Today I went shopping in Bamako to buy some things for my new site. I am the first volunteer so I need to get EVERYTHING including a mattress, stove, and pans. They have stores called "Tubab Stores" that are like a mini Meijers. I find it difficult to go to those stores now with so many choices. I get overwhelmed. Also, things can be expensive. A rolling pin costs the equivalent of $60 when a wine bottle/nalgene will work just fine.

I will buy a lot more at the market in my site mate's village and also get furniture (chairs, bed frame, and table) made their. I'm going to try to live as frugally/close to Malians as possible though I have a gas stove... I'm still trying to figure out how often I will cook for myself and how often I will eat with my family.

The next two months will be spent getting to know my community, conducting a baseline survey of WATSAN and gender, studying Bambara with a local language teacher, and conducting some participatory assessment tools to get to know my village's needs. I'm both excited and nervous! I probably won't have internet access for another 3 weeks, so a bit less than the past 2 months have been.

Thanks again for all your support! I received package #3 billibilliba (BIG in Bambara) which had TONS of goodies (granola bars, drink mix, magazines, wash clothes...) I think I am set for another 6 months! I'm going to have fun packing tomorrow and Monday ;) I can't replicate the original packing job... Also received a letter from Adam and package from Ana. THANK YOU! I have not received any other mail (that means you Dad...don't know what happened to your letter :/) Some of you should be getting letters if I can purchase stamps.


  1. Colleen,

    Sounds like all is well with you. I spoke with Jared today (his birthday) and he mentioned your gift. Sounds like the isolation phase has set in. My thoughts are with you guys. Stay well!


  2. Joe,

    I will have to wish Jared a belated birthday! Glad he liked my "gift" and hope things are going well for him...not too isolated I hope. Thanks for the well wishes and reading :)