Two more volunteers have gone home, which is rough. I'm still doing well, though. Everybody is looking forward to the site visit in a couple of weeks, when we'll get to see our new homes for the next two years.

Attrition

Yesterday, two more volunteers went home, for a total of four who have left. Three have been for health reasons. A friend of mine hadn't really eaten for weeks, and had lost 15 pounds. So there's that. This part really sucks; I'll miss them.

For my part, I'm doing great. I was only a little sick for one day, and I had very mild diarrhea after the first rabies vaccination. Other than that, I've been in perfect health. I also have it a lot easier than most of the other volunteers, because I speak French fluently. Learning a new language with the pressure of knowing you'll be using it to survive and for work in just two months is an awful lot of stress.

Training

Training proceeds apace. I start learning a new language, Dagara, in a couple of weeks. That's the local language most spoken at my site. Right now, I just know the name of the language. That said, the classes are taught in French, and I think that most of the interactions with my fellow teachers will be in French.

Here's what training looks like:

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Training (click to make larger)

For a lot of the training, we form into small groups, and develop a presentation or skit on one of the subjects, to present to the others. In this session, my little group made a game show that we called “Am I going to die?” It was about three different sets of symptoms, what you should do to treat them yourself, and when you should call the medical office. We did it in the style of The Dating Game, complete with several words from our sponsors. I had a recording of Tijuana Taxi by Herb Alpert with me on a USB key, so we even had theme music for our intro and outro. We had a lot of fun with it.

Suffering

My host family's dog's name translates to “Death is Preferable to Suffering.” My host-brother, Skander (who's about to start 3ème, or 9th grade in our system) was really cute when I asked him the name. “C'est un peu compliqué” (it's a bit complicated).

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Death is Preferable to Suffering, the dog (click to make larger)

Weekend!

We finally had a free day last Sunday! For most of us, that turned into hanging out by the pool at the local hotel. Well, I went fabric shopping with Kayla, her host mom and Sarah, and then Kayla's host mom gave us lunch. Then I visited my local tailor to have an African shirt (a “bobo”) and pants made; I should get those in a couple of days. But then I made it to the hotel where everyone gathered. I had a decidedly mediocre Guiness for 1300 CFA ($2.50 or so), and did some very welcome hanging out in the bar for a couple of hours.

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Finally, a day to chill!

I'm not sure what else to say… It's kind of weird how so much of what we're doing is pedestrian, like “ugh, I've got homework due tomorrow.” Oh, I'm pretty sure I was given tripe last night to eat. I felt a little bad, because I wasn't able to eat it – I stuck it in my mouth and chewed, but it was kind of rubbery and gristley, and I wasn't able to make the pieces small enough to swallow. I gave up, and I think they took my half-chewed tripe back to the kitchen to re-cook. On the plus side, I also got tô (basically Cream of Wheat al dente) with Okra sauce. Vegetables! Yay!

Anyhoo, it's the fourth of July, which we are celebrating by having two hours off in the afternoon. I believe a beer with my name on it is waiting for me outside the PC compound…

Oh, hey, if there's anything you want to hear about, let me know! The best/fastest way to get a message to me is a text message, either to my Burkinabè phone, or my US phone. The US number is fine for text messages; I generally check that daily. E-mail is harder and takes up more data, because I have to set up my phone as a wireless hotspot, and then connect my computer. I only really do that when I'm making a blog post.

Also, we're all totally cut off from US news. If something interesting is happening, please let me know!