Annnnd I wrote this one about a month later… 🙂
We’ve officially been here over a month and I have survived all of it! Here are a few updates:
Life in Benin: … is awesome. The kids (and some adults) still scream Yovo at me, but I’ve taken to pretending that I’m Jennifer Aniston and that they are my fans – way more fun. The food here is still awesome. The people are still very nice. The weather is always going to be awesome for me – haha!
My Family: IS AMAZEBALLS. They’re so loving and treat me like I’m one of the fam! I get ‘cooking lessons’ from my mama and sister but really it’s me playing in the kitchen with Maeva (my 1 yr old niece) while they cook and then I recite how to make the meal. Win, win? I think so. I am only really allowed to cook 1 thing on my own (AKA with a sister in the kitchen with me) and that is… FRENCH FRIES! My sister watches me very closely… I even accidentally burned her once:( Oops! But, my fries are famous. Zack and Jordan – My friend and I are going to try and make some animal fries next! Haha!
Health: I’ve been sick twice, but like I said I survived. I can’t remember the last time I had a fever so that was kinda weird, but my mama and the PC doctors took great care of me.
French: Loooong days of French classes paid off! After my 1st of 3 (?) language tests before swearing in, I tested into the Intermediate Mid level, which is the requirement to swear in as a Volunteer! YAY! Now I am learning Bariba, but I can only remember how to say I love you (Na nu ki) and my name (there are no Hs in the alphabet so my name is technically Eater… I’m banking on a nickname… lol).
Post: [Post = where I where I will be ‘posted’ or living for the next two years] We all get 2 interviews with our PCMOs about our posts and everything is kept pretty hush hush until the big reveal. CED (pronounded like “sed” and stands for Community Economic Development) Trainees were asked to put their order of preference for urban, semi-urban and rural communities, their top 3 “wants” and special skills or interests you have and would like to use. Here is what I put down:
I put down urban, semi-urban then rural – I’m in Africa. That’s rural enough for me. We never actually spoke about this question in my interview though, but it was on my questionnaire.
Want 1: To be placed next to other Americans.
Want 2: To have access to electricity for my computer – I made this request so that I would be able to do my job better, not a necessity.
Want 3: To be able to speak French at work – Again, not a necessity, but so that I will be able to do my job more effectively.
Special Skills: I took that opportunity to discuss my degree and experience with Marketing/Advertising and how much I’d love to continue that if possible.
Annnnnd I got PARAKOU! (…Google it now.) Briefly, it is one of the largest cities in Benin, located about mid country where 90% of the pop speaks French (but I will probably still continue with my Bariba lessons). There is just about everything I could possibly need in Parakou – including running water and electricity at my house! Basically everything that we have here in Porto Novo I will have in Parakou (including PIZZA & STEAK!!!!! eff yeah.) OH AND – I will have a post mate (someone who lives in the same city as me – I may or may not have already met her and she may or may not be awesome…) 🙂 Also, there are 4 ‘workstations’ in Benin that are just PC offices that volunteers can stay at for a few days with wifi, AC, printers, scanners, books etc. 1 of those workstations is in Parakou also!
Job: Okay, on top of getting an awesome post, I got an equally, if not better, job! I will be working with an up and coming Moringa (again, Google it now…) Organization. I am not sure how much I am allowed to write about my work partners so I will hold off on any more information about that – but I can tell you that will be using my Marketing/Advertising experience A LOT (Megan & Leah: There was even a request for a brochure redesign too – how crazy!!). I am so excited to get to Parakou and meet my homologue (Beninoise work partner) and explore everything! Every year, each training group goes to visit their posts during training. We are the first group to go for 2 weeks – the others went for only 3 or 4 days. I will leave for that on August 5th with my homologue (our homologues are coming down to Porto Novo for a 2 day orientation with us). So, If you’re paying attention I got an urban city, all of my wants, and will get to use my requested special skill! That was pretty rare among the group…
I think that covers everything! I will try and not leave you all hanging for so long next time!
Oh yeah – SEND ME LETTERS!
Heather Pace, PCT
Corps de la Paix Americain
01 BP 971
Miss you all and love you even more!