December 21, 2003 - Fon is Fun: Peace Corps Volunteer Lingo by Benin RPCV Chris Starace

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Benin: Peace Corps Benin : The Peace Corps in Benin: December 21, 2003 - Fon is Fun: Peace Corps Volunteer Lingo by Benin RPCV Chris Starace

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, December 21, 2003 - 11:20 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Lingo by Benin RPCV Chris Starace

Peace Corps Volunteer Lingo by Benin RPCV Chris Starace

Fon for Peace Corps Volunteers:

picture credit

.WAV Files

Jlodagbe- Volunteer. "Jlo" means will as in the will to do something. Dagbe means good. Put them together and you get "good willed" or "volunteer"

Nye we jlodagbe Amelicanu - I am an American Volunteer.

Keke, kekekunto, na kun keke ce - Bicycle, a bike rider, I'm going to ride my bicycle. Bike rider is Keke (Bicycle) + kun (ride) and to (father) Both men and women who ride a bicycle are "fathers of bike riding." All Peace Corps Volunteers are issued a Mountain Bike (...usually a pretty nice one. I had a new Trek Mtn. Bike outfitted with lights and an bags). Peace Corps used to issue motorcycle, but because there were so many injuries, they did away with them.

Un do akwe a- I don't have any money. - This is a dilemma which plagues every volunteer. The problem is that most international aid agencies who operate in Benin are in the business of giving money to build projects such as schools, latrines, workshops for cottage industries and cooperatives. Peace Corps' philosophy is based on teaching people and not giving out money. The effect this has on volunteers is that everyone they work with has the expectation of getting a project. It can be very frustrating when you are trying to teach people skills and you get the feeling they are only humoring you and waiting for akwe (money).

Un wa kplon mele - I came to teach people. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, your roles is more of a teacher, trainer, and a consultant than anything else.

Na blo xwe we do Benin kpo na leko do Yovotome- I'm going to be in Benin for two years, and them I'm going back to the US.

Xwetenu a na yi do Yovotome?- When are you going back to the US?

Mewi- Black Person- (see discussion on Yovo). Volunteers sometimes resort to calling the Beninese Mewi when they get fed up being called Yovo. I've said it many times and no one ever got upset because it means nothing more than "black person." Volunteers say it in hopes of making a point: that its not fun for others to single you out for the color of your skin and tease you about it, but it never seemed to work for me. They usually said, "yes, I'm a Mewi and you're a Yovo," and it gets you no where. Even though you would like to make everyone understand that it really bothers you to be called Yovo, it's a fruitless effort, and you have to accept being called a Yovo constantly. The only chance you have is to convince your friends and people you see often to refrain from using the word. This will take many months at best.

Yovo Jawe- The Yovo is Coming. As a Peace Corps Volunteer you will be riding your Peace Corps issued mountain bike everywhere unless you live in a big city like Cotonou, Parakou, or Abomey where you can walk or take a motorcycle taxi. There are almost never any sidewalks so pedestrians must walk on the roads and narrow foot paths. You have to constantly ring your bell to tell people you're coming so they don't wander into your path.. Sometimes I got tired of ringing the bell and instead said, Yovo Jawe. They usually cracked up and got out of the way faster.

Clingon-Clingon- More onomatopoeia. Means (cling! cling!) In Benin your only means of transportation besides walking and taxis is your PC issued Mtn. Bike. If your handlebar bell is broken, then this is the word to use. This will show you are an insider. (see Yovo Jawe for more info.)

Glegan- Chief of Fields SED (Small Enterprise Development ) - formerly SBD Small Business Development volunteers are assigned to work with CARDER, which is a government rural extension agency that has offices in most large towns throughout Benin. CARDER (an acronym for which I forget the words) hires Beninese people to teach villagers important skills, most which revolve around organizational development, agriculture, and hygiene. The villagers associate CARDER mainly with the agricultural training and call most people who work for CARDER Glegan. If you are an SED volunteer you will be partnered with a Glegan for the two years.

Fon Related Pages: Home About Fon Help on Listening to .WAV Files The Most Important Greetings Special Requests from Users Greetings that State the Obvious Basic Phrases Questions Grammar and Pronunciation Useful Vocabulary Fon for Peace Corps Volunteers Voodoo The Final Test

Non Fon Pages: My Pictures of Benin Benin Related Links Guest Book Maps Stories From My PC Diary Beninese Food Recipes New Content! Peace Corps Q & A Benin Books and Music

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Story Source: Fon is Fun

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