|By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, April 05, 2003 - 7:56 pm: Edit Post|
Jeanne Choi is a current Peace Corps volunteer in Benin
Jeanne Choi is a current Peace Corps volunteer in Benin
Jeanne Choi is a current Peace Corps volunteer from Maryland in West Africa. Join us as we follow her journey over the next two years. Check back frequently for recent email news.
hey everyone!!! its me jeanne!!! well ive been back here in allada for a week after retourning from savé, my post for a few days:::: man all of you guys seirously need to visit me bc savé is absolutely beautiful!! i really think i got the best post there are these beautiful mountains, called collins:::: its really hilly and the people are so warm and welcoming:::the few days i spent there were a blur::: went around and met the police, customs, governor, other dignitariries, and also the king!!! pretty interesting::::theres one other volunteer there whos a teacher:::food availability is really good since i get a good mix of foods from the north and south:::cant wait for mango season!!!! as for my house i know i told a few of you a few things but it looks like things are still up in the air:::it pretty much depends on these two houses:::the deciding factor is how much the rent for one of the hosues will be::::so how was everyones thanksgiving:::i know its pretty late::::i guess i should be asking about your christmas and new years plans:::for christmas a bunch of the trainees are going to grand popo, the absolutely beautiful beach here:::and then returning to allada christmas eve for a big dinner thats being cooked by one of the host mothers:::and then christmas day will be spend in each others company and witho ur host families::::
after we all spend a few days at our posts we all headed to cotonou for an aids bike race:::it was pretty cool::the us ambassador showed up as well as all of the volunteers in benin:::we also reunited witht he health and environmental trainees whom we havent seen in two months::::oh i must also tell you that ive eaten rat::which is something the people eat here:::its actually not that bad:::i guess that would constitute a real african experience huh?:::but then i saw it being cut up and prepared the next morning which was really unsettling:::: for those of you who have sent packages and letters, i thank you!!!!
grace g. = letter and package received
* thanks guys!!!!
again here is the wish list:
frisbee; soccer ball
spices; food mixes
any type of snack
magazines, newspapers = md basketball clippings!!!
music = tape or cd
L'Afrique de l'Ouest (West Africa)
as a suggestion its much better to send things in padded envelopes (with religious paraphernalia and paravion) vs boxes::::for those people who sent packages dont worry:::the mail system is highly random:::some
come in two weeks; others come in 6 months i hear::::
again for those who sent letters and packages thank you!!!! know that the candy magazines and newspapers are being well circulated and devoured among all of the volunteers and trainees here:::
anyway weve got about 4 more weeks of training:::then were all heading to parakou for our swearing in as peace corps volunteers ceremony on january 4:::::and then off to our posts!!!!!
im guessing you all can notice hox my english is slowly gettting worse as all of the french and local language classes have been consuming my thoughts and energies::::
well im still here and staying strong::::please write and share stuff with me!!!!
i wont have internet at savé so i may be able to check email one more time before i leave for savé in january:::but once i get there ill have a better idea of howoften i can travel to cotonou or parakou to check email::::
have a super day evreyone!!!!! and write!!!!!!
hey everybody!!! bonjour!!! ca va?! it's jeanne!!! i'm at an internet cafe in cotonou, benin. it's been approximately a week and a day since i left maryland. there's soooo much to tell you guys, so let me just break it down in bitesize chunks: - all of the pct's (peace corps trainees) are soooo awesome; all very well-traveled, love the outdoors, and very chill personalities - benin is hot, but definitely comparable to maryland/dc area in the summer; but we still haven't hit the dry season, which can go up to 120-130degrees - training so far is absolutely amazing; very well-organized; having language, technical, cross-cultural, and health sessions (yesterday's health session was all about diarrhea) - all 37 of us pct's can't believe it's only been a week; thinking back on what we've done each day has been a blur - the three programs (health, environmental, and business) are splitting up today and going to their respective training sites; i'll be going to allada, which is about a 2 hour drive from cotonou. cotonou is one of the major cities--the peace corps office and the u.s. embassy are here - yesterday met the u.s. embassy; very cool; actually knew a lot about ellicott city, maryland!!
(continued from previous email....we have to send emails in chunks, cause these computers lose connection randomly)....
- we've all been eating really well; we've been staying at a catholic convent called paul vi - talking to some of the other pcv's (peace corps volunteers) who have been here for the past year, i found out that most likely i'll be gaining weight; the beninese diet is rich in carbohydrates and they use palm oil in everything - i noticed there are no trashcans here; you just kind of leave trash anywhere on the ground and it gets picked up eventually - all the gals are wearing skirts or dresses; i'll be getting most of my clothes made here; cloth and service are cheap - we'll all be getting a peace corps allowance every three months; i'll be earning approximately two dollars a day....pretty hard to imagine in the states, but here it goes a long way (700 CFA = 1 dollar; and most things here cost about 100 CFA) - as the business group leaves for allada, we'll be staying with a host family, who's been previously trained by the peace corps to properly take care of us; in the three months i'll be living with them, i'll be observing and eventually learning how to perform everyday duties (drawing water, boiling water, cooking, etc..) - there's a week during training where i'll be going to my actual post, meeting
- what was i talking about? oh yeah, visiting my post during training; in about the sixth week, we'll be given our posts and visiting the village to get a feel for the people and to meet our neighbors - it's pretty much in the air whether i'll have electricity, flushing toilets, or running water - some of the volunteers have pets, and i'm thinking about getting a cat - the hcn's (host country nationals; basically, the beninese people) are soooo great; incredibly friendly; always smiling - safety in our villages is always an issue, but we've been told that the entire village will know who we are, since we'll probably be the only american in our community; everyone in the village looks out for and supports peace corps volunteers; always willing to fetch water, teach local skills, offering food, inviting us over for a meal - we've been issued our mountain bikes, as well as our zemijohn helmets (they're basically motor bikes that pcv's use to get around in the cities; the beninese pretty much know who we are by these monstrous helmets); by the way, i got a brand new helmet, so you're free to send me any cool stickers - we actually had a zemijohn training session yesterday; where some local zemi's came and we had to practice negotiating prices in french and holding onto the bike properly - my training group put on a talent show yesterday; learned a lot about everyone; we all feel as we've known each other for years; we have so much talent in this group (musicians, artists, actors, ets...) - we've learned that the peace corps makes up half of the american population here in benin; there are approx. 200 americans in benin right now, and about 100 of them are peace corps volunteers... Well, i'm gonna have to end this email now....hope these little tid bits have given you some idea of my life here in benin has been going so far....we've all been trying to listen to the short wave radio, listening to bbc, voice of america, etc....it has been somewhat surreal hearing about afghanistan and the anthrax situation....hope everyone remains safe, happy, and healthy.....most likely, i will not be able to use the internet or email for the rest of training, which means for the next three months. so please feel free to write...letters will always be greatly appreciated .....know that i'm having an amazing experience so far...and please keep me updated on what's happening in your life.....until i hear from you again...much love ,jeanne choi
hey guys!!!! its me; jeanne!!!::::this email may not make a lot of sense; cause the keyboard here in allada is really messed up::::all the keys are in different places; and i dont know where the period and apostrophes are!!!! so to start off:::im doing really really well:::::this is going to be a really disorganized email; so bear with me:::::the three groups have separated:::business; health and environmental::::the 17 of us business peace corps volunteers are stationed in a village called allada:::weve been here for about two weeks now::::im living with a host family::::i got a pretty sweet deal; compared to some of the other volunteers:::i actually have a bathtub flushing toilet and shower head:::too bad none of them work::::theres so much to say; so ill just tell you what a typical day is like here in Benin::::i wake up at around 6am:::take a bucket shower::::brush my teeth with boiled water ive prepared the night before using the portable stove peace corps provides::::drink my morning coffee and loaf of bread::::8am go to language class:::::depending on which day it is:::ill have language; cross cultural health technical or bike training::::we get a break between noon and 3pm to go home and eat dinner with our families::: my family has been feeding me really well::::i think ive gained a good 5 pounds already::::then we have class from, 3 to 6::::nowadays weùve been going to a buvette; or bar:::::it so happens to be the place my host family owns::::i have a mama; whos like the godfather of the family:::she just sits and chills while all the kids do the work::::the culture here is so different:::one of my host brothers has four wives:::two of the women live at the house; another lives at the house of another one of my peace corps friends::::dont know where the 4th one is::::there must be at least 20 kids coming in and out of the house::::donùt know whos related to who and how::::i normally take about 2 showers; which is pretty common around here::::the only way to cope with the heat::::all of us trek to our classes on our mountain bikes::::everyone here is so friendly::::youre guaranteed a warm morning greeting; like bon soir or bonjour!!!! hmmmm; what else:::::oh yeah; i already have a husband ::::: well; just a pseudo husband::::i asked a fellow volunteer to be my husband; only bc me; along with all the other female volunteers have been getting marriage proposals; at least 5x a day::::bought a cheap ring at the local market; so i just flash that::most of the time it works:::i got to cut this email short:::only a few more minutes left::::its pretty amazing to learn about the projects we may be doing::::but ill write about that at another time:::until then stay happy and healthy:::and write!!!!! much love; jeanne
Jeanne Choi, PCT
Corps de la Paix Americain
L'Afrique de l'Ouest (West Africa)
suggested things to send.....baby wipes; frisbee: perels antibacterial hand sanitizer: any type of candy: :::::make sure to write par avion on any letter or package:::otherwise itll take a few months::::also a little tip if youre sending a package::::write religious notes such as jesus saves or i love jesus:::most likely these packages will not be mishandled or rough=handled
hey guys!!! the last email i sent had my mailing address.
Also, i have none of your mailing addresses!! so send them to me!! actually, better yet, write so i can write back!! the same three people have been getting mail, so the rest of us are getting a bit antsy have an awesome day everyone!!
much love ,jeanne