To thank our homestay families for all of their patience and help as we struggled to learn a new language and adopt Senegalese customs, we held a luncheon at the Thies training center. It was a little bit awkward because are training group was so large that we could only invite one family member each. So my "mom", and namesake, Habi Balde came for the afternoon. For all the trying moments that we had together during homestay, it was actually really nice to see her, all dressed up. Best part of the luncheon: lunch. Probably chicken, vegetables, and rice sound very simple to all you back at home, but it's expensive here and that is a treat. After lunch and tea, there was music and dancing; I actually got my "mom" to get up and dance Gwana (the national hit dance) in public with me. She loves to dance and we'd always dance at home, but never ever when anyway was home, so this was specially. It was really sad to say goodbye in the end because Habi started crying and honestly I don't know when I will be able to visit them again, but hopefully I will.
Two days later was swearing in at the US Ambassadors House. I was so ready for this one, minus the pre-speech butterflies in my stomach. I own a pair of coral pink Converses and I thought it would be symbolic to pair the shoes with a Senegalese outfit. The outfit was a process (finding the right material, designing the pattern, explaining to the tailor in broken Wolof-French what it was I wanted) but well worth it. Everyone looked gorgeous in their Senegalese outfits as we boarded the buses for Dakar. We had gendarme escort us into the city: sirens, lights, wrong side of the road and all. ( A little bit over the top and embarrassing but it was kind of fun too.) The ceremony itself was televised and there is a Peace Corps video of it somewhere(youtube?). I had the honor of giving the Pulaar language thank you/congratulations speech to an audience of the Ambassador, government officials, PC & JICA directors, and of course my fellow volunteers. I was all nervous because my Pulaar knowledge is very limited. But everyone else thought it sounded great and I had a sweet outfit...
|My Peace Corps Stage|
The swearing in ceremony was concluded with delicious foods, cold drinks, and photos in the Ambassador's garden. Then we went over to the American Club, aka swimming pool and grilled CHEESE and ICE CREAM! All the indulgences of America for a day.
|River crossing to get to Kolda|
|Velingara Hotel had no power...|