Thursday, April 8, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I found out yesterday that, for the next two years, I will be living in the village of Ngaraf, in the region of Louga, in North-Central Senegal. On this map, you'll see the two cities of Dara and Linguere in the periwinkle-shaded region called Louga. Ngaraf is located right on the main road between these two, 20 km from each of them. (If you're feeling tech-savvy, you can check it out on google maps - Ngaraf itself is actually labeled and you can see all the little compounds.)

I still don't know a ton about my site. The village has about 300 residents, mostly Wolof-speaking, and all Muslim. I'll be replacing an environmental education volunteer who has been working on a number of gardening projects and, like me, likes to run and bike. My house is rumored to be fairly posh by rural standards -- a cement structure, not a hut, which makes me feel like the third little piggy who builds a brick house and makes fun of the first and second little piggies because they built their houses out of straw and sticks, respectively.

There are three other kids from my training group also being placed in the area surrounding Linguere. Ann Marie, Justin, and Kim are all great -- they have positive energy, good senses of humor, and thick skin, alhumdahlilaay!!

A cute little story: There's a big map of Senegal painted on a cement area here at the training center. The Peace Corps folks unveiled our site placements to the trainees by blindfolding all of us and then leading us to our spots on the map. We stood there, calling out names and grasping blindly to figure out who our nearest neighbors were until they told us to remove our blindfolds and indulge in the "moment of truth." It was very fun, though nerve-wracking and quite intense! One of the spectators took some great photos of this process, which I'll post when I get a chance.

Next week, we travel to our install sites for a five-day visit. We'll stay with the volunteer we'll be replacing (if there is one), meet our new home stay families, and basically see where and how we'll be living for the next two years! The shroud of uncertainty under which I've existed for the last three years is finally being fully removed. I'm extraordinarily excited to see my home and meet my neighbors, and I'm doing my best to reserve judgment and expectations until then.

All the best to you!


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