Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Close of Service (COS)

Unfortunately, I have been seriously slackly lately on writing anything at all on my blog.  So here is a very brief overview of what’s been going on in the last two months.

  1. G2LOW 2012 finished very successfully- we had a total of 233 female and 221 male students, coming from 58 different villages,  participate between the four camps.  61 PCVs and 52 Burkinabès worked as organizers and facilitators during the camps.  For every one of our indicators, we had a significant increase in attitudes and behaviors.  Go Camp G2LOW!
  2. My best friend from high school, Stephanie, came to visit during her 5-month around the world trip (cool, yes?).  We had a great time and it was wonderful to see her after so long.
  3. PC allowed myself and several other third-year PCVs participate again in a Close of Service (COS) conference.  We already attended this conference back in March 2011, but this time our heads were actually in it.
  4. Security incident at my site so I got moved out of Kaya four weeks early (PC takes security very seriously). I moved in with a friend, Lorena, so that I could stay busy and finish out the remainder of my service.
  5. 25th birthday! – My 4th birthday in Burkina Faso!
  6. Krystle’s wedding.  She is another third-year PCV who married a Burkinabè, Nanema, September 8th.  I was her witness.  Best wishes to them both!
  7. COS process.  I am now in Ouaga finishing all of the paperwork and medical appointments to finish my service tomorrow and fly home tomorrow night!!!
This is a bittersweet time for me, letting go of what I know and starting a new life back in America. Due to the past few months being difficult (Richard being deployed, security situation, etc.), I am definitely ready to go home and restart life, which is a good place to be when you’re leaving here.  However, I am going to miss the generosity of the Burkinabè people and my good friends here.  But I do know that I will be back, I just don’t know when.
  1. Your bowel movements are not an appropriate topic of conversation, especially while eating.
  2. Utensils are universally accepted and provided should you choose to dine in public. However, eating fries with your hands is okay. No one knows why.
  3.  Picking your nose in public is offensive and disgusting to anyone over the age of six.
  4. Littering is often illegal and unnecessary due to common use of trashcans.
  5. A lot of pop culture has happened without us. Expect to know nothing. You won’t get any jokes; you won’t know any songs, YouTube fads, or celebrities. Don’t try to catch up- it’s not worth it.
  6. Technology has advanced without us. You can touch screens and there’s a lady named Siri who lives in your iPhone. Try to remain calm when you don’t recognize any devices your friends are using and when they laugh during your struggle to Google the sushi place you’re going to later. Don’t sweat it; you’re about to eat sushi.
  7. You have not driven a car in three years: BE CAREFUL.
  8. Wearing dirty, torn, or ill-fitting clothing, or clothing you find in a basket or in piles on the side of the street, may cause others to perceive you as homeless.
  9. You cannot wear flipflops everywhere, especially not to work.
  10. Wearing clothes that stop above the knee is considered normal. Short shorts ≠ prostitute. African outfits and heads scarves however, may garner curious looks.
  11. Beers are small, typically 12 ounces. Also, we use the imperial (as opposed to metric) system of measurement. Those of you near Canada can get away with describing things in kilometers (be careful to pronounce that correctly in English, not in French; it’s harder than it seems). The rest of you can’t.
  12. Meetings start on time. You’re actually supposed to get there early. Including, but not limited to: interviews, classes and support groups.
  13. A three-hour nap or break in the middle of the day is generally frowned upon. 
  14. We don’t use military time.  Saying 16 o’clock sounds ridiculous.  Just say 4 pm.
  15. Everything is super EXPENSIVE!  You need a job.  No one will give you good, alcohol, healthcare, transport, or lodging.
  16. All food will be DELICIOUS. Careful of over-indulgence. Especially with dairy.
  17.  All those cute noises you make these days are unknown to Americans, and if you’ll recall from when you first arrived, the people making them seem crazy. Try to refrain from the “un HUHs”, clicks, and “psss”. Caution: You can’t hiss at waiters. It’s just not accepted.
  18. Gossiping about people sitting around you, or bad-mouthing restaurant staff within earshot, is dangerous. English will no longer be your secret language.
  19. Tipping servers and other service people is an unspoken rule. I mean, they refilled your drink! Twice! Without you having to ask!
  20. You MUST refrain from touching/grabbing/petting/pinching the cheek of babies whom you do not know! This could result in an arrest. So will threatening to hit children. Turns out that’s not okay.
  21. If someone tells you the cost of something, they MEAN it. Even if you think it’s too much. Don’t bargain- they might throw you out.
  22. People DO NOT greet strangers in America. You will come off as a lunatic.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this whole process and I cannot wait to see you and catch up back in America!

Here are a few funny tidbits of things written by a fellow PCV that I will have to be thinking about upon reentering the developed world (I apologize if I don’t get all of these down right away, please be patient…):

And a few pictures!

Stephanie and I at the domes in the south of Burkina

Lorena and I in our fancy outfits for the mosque part of Krystle's wedding

Carolyn, the bride, and I

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