Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Thanks and FĂȘtes!

So, September ended and now it’s November! My time in Burkina is coming to a close, I officially have 70 days  left of my Peace Corps Service. This is my favorite time of year in Burkina and it is going to go by really fast.

Let me recap on what’s been going on:

50th Anniversary Fair:
“In 2011, the Peace Corps will commemorate 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Join us in supporting the agency's mission and legacy of service by honoring our past, demonstrating our effectiveness, and inspiring the next generation of Volunteers through education and engagement.”

In Ouaga we held a fair or expo on Peace Corps. Each volunteer would have a booth to showcase the work they have been doing with their villages. Some volunteers brought in their tailors, sold soap, etc. While other volunteers actually brought in their dance or theater groups. My association, Weog la Viim, had an informational booth.  We also had general booths explaining Peace Corps, and a time line of volunteers in Burkina. Overall the fair was a great success. We had many Burkinabe come. My association have a 30 minute presentation on Weog, explaining our role in the community and some of our major projects. It was 3 long days, but I feel my association benefited from the fair,a long with a little networking too!

The first week in October, I took a week vacation to Senegal. I went with another volunteer to visit our friend who is in PC Senegal. We stayed in Dakar for the whole week, only taking a day trip to another village. We flew from Ouaga to Dakar, with a short layover in Bamako, Mali.  Air Burkina is a really nice company, despite all that we heard prior to booking our ticket. Once arriving in Dakar, it was like being dropped into a downtown metro area. Despite being hassled by the taxi drivers, I didn’t feel like I was in West Africa at all. Each day was filled with swimming in the ocean, thanks to our friend, who lived only 2 blocks from the beach. We visited some of the “sights” Dakar had to offer. The trip was very relaxing, and much needed. I’m just sad that it had to end…. I added photos to my Pisca Album.

Between Senegal and now I took my GRE, which is by far one of the weirdest experiences in Burkina. I studied all day every day for two strait weeks, prior to the test, the day of the actually test I felt confident. When arriving at the American Language Center I really thought it would be filled with PC volunteers and maybe a few expats, but it was packed with Burkinabe! Most of them have been taking a weekly class to prepare for this test, and had current copies of the book, mine being outdated my 2 years.. The proctor showed up 2 hours late! After taking the test, I felt glad to have it over, but I realized this would never happen in the US. The whole point of a standardize test, is for everything to be the same, and I defiantly don’t feel the same, as if I would have taken it in the US. I guess I will know better next time.

November: The month of giving thanks, and parties!:
I started this month long party off with Halloween! I carved a watermelon, and asked children to come to my house to ask for candy. The children were more amused with why I carved a face into a watermelon, than why I wanted to finally give them candy. The next day was All Saint’s day. It is hugely celebrated here by the Christian population. I started the day off by going to church, then hanging out with my local dolo (local beer) lady. We went to a few houses to celebrate the holiday, were I continued to eat and drink. The next day was All Souls Day, and the church met at dusk at the cemetery to pray for the departed. It was a really cool experience. Seeing the power of pray, all these people huddles around the headstones, saying the rosary, as the sun is fading into the background.

The next Saturday was Tabaski.
A little history of Tabaski: People are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform the prayer, in a large congregation in an open field, or mosque.They are asked to sacrifice their sheep or ram as a symbol of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals, have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice. The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy.

I dressed up in my best MouMou and headed to prayer with my family. I didn't actually pray, since I wanted to take pictures of the experience. After watching the slaughtering of the goat, my family went to the house of a holy man, to “start” the party. After that I went back to my house to finish helping the women prepare the food. Around 1pm I finally ate, and that started the tour of food, as my friend and I joked about. After excusing my self from my house, my friend and I went to 7 other houses that night. We covered everyone I worked with, along with some friends I made. We ate a lot of meet, and drank Fanta's, while I passed out candy to the kids, only after making sure they knew my name. The night ended late and with a full stomach. The next day however is also acceptable wish people a happy Tabaski.  My house was full of people this weekend, and I have never ate so much in my life. I experience Tabaski once before while I was in training, but never have I got the full experience like I did this year. Needless to say I think I will be stuffed until Thanksgiving rolls around!

The next few weeks, are kind of lax. I don’t have much going on. I am going to be having a few new PC trainees at my site, and I have a small project I need to finish up. It will be a nice to regroup and exercise, before hitting Thanksgiving. I plan to eat as much Turkey as I can get! I’m going to have a small 3rd year Thanksgiving in Ouaga, then I was invited to another volunteers site to celebrate too!

I added photos of Senegal and some of the stuff I have been doing these past few weeks in my Pisca Web Album (link is posted to the right.)

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