2009.01.07: January 7, 2009: Headlines: COS - Guinea: Blogs - Guinea: Training: Personal Web Site: Guinea PCV All of life is a foreign country writes: The One Year Mark

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guinea: Peace Corps Guinea : Peace Corps Guinea: Newest Stories: 2009.01.07: January 7, 2009: Headlines: COS - Guinea: Blogs - Guinea: Training: Personal Web Site: Guinea PCV All of life is a foreign country writes: The One Year Mark

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Guinea PCV All of life is a foreign country writes: The One Year Mark

Guinea PCV All of life is a foreign country writes:  The One Year Mark

The new group of stagiares came today, on our 1 year anniversary, and they seem like really cool people. Theyíre all very excited to be here, but itís amazing to watch how they react to Guinea, because theyíre going through all the same overwhelming shock that I went through. Iím glad that some other volunteers and I are able to be here to help them and answer all their millions of qustions. Seeing them sweating, grossed out by the food, staring blankly when Guineans speak to them, and chattering amongst themselves about the dirt and chaos of Conakry strikes home vividly for me just how much Iíve changed in the past year. To some extent I can attribute the changes to the simple passage of time, but so much of it is also the result of being placed on my own in an entirely culture, being respected as someone with knowledge and opinions relevant beyond the world of academia, and being responsible to give advice to people trusting me enough to make decisions that affect their already tenuous livelihoods.

Guinea PCV All of life is a foreign country writes: The One Year Mark

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

1 Year (December 4th)

I tried to write this a while ago, but never finished and got it up, so I decided to post it retroactively. December 4th is the one year anniversary of my landing on Guinean soil, and I can scarcely believe it. Itís a little weird because time in America, though it goes quickly, seems to move at a relatively steady rate (in terms of perception, obviously). Here in Guinea, however, the slowest 4 months of my life were those of training and my first 2 months at site. Stage felt like being back in high school, with highly regimented 9 hour days of class, my host family preparing all my meals, no money, and an early curfew. It was great to be able to see my new Peace Corps friends every day and a good way to ease into life in Guinea, but the heat-, language-, and culture-shocks were overwhelming. We had an exhausting 4 hours of language most days, and by the end of training we were all anxious to get out to the relative independence of site. But then I got there, and I was actually independentÖ This was a bigger problem than I expected. I had no real friends in Kissidougou, only a vague idea of what work I should be doing and still poor French skills (and non-existent Malinke skills). Phone service was horrible, so I wasnít able to speak to my parents for support. On top of all that we were entering March and April, the 2 hottest months of the year. Basically, I was uncomfortable physically, emotionally, and intellectually for the entire first few months.

I turned a corner after a while, though, and these past 7 or 8 months have been some of the fastest of my life. I still sweat a ludicrous amount, but Iíve adapted and the heat doesnít bother me anymore. My French would make me sound like a moron in Paris, but itís more than good enough to do all my work and deal with daily life. I can go over to a friendís house and spend my time joking and talking, rather than desperately mentally rehearsing my next line, trying not to stumble over my pronunciation. After turning that first corner and no longer being stressed and uneasy every single moment, I grew marginally more comfortable every day.

The new group of stagiares came today, on our 1 year anniversary, and they seem like really cool people. Theyíre all very excited to be here, but itís amazing to watch how they react to Guinea, because theyíre going through all the same overwhelming shock that I went through. Iím glad that some other volunteers and I are able to be here to help them and answer all their millions of qustions. Seeing them sweating, grossed out by the food, staring blankly when Guineans speak to them, and chattering amongst themselves about the dirt and chaos of Conakry strikes home vividly for me just how much Iíve changed in the past year. To some extent I can attribute the changes to the simple passage of time, but so much of it is also the result of being placed on my own in an entirely culture, being respected as someone with knowledge and opinions relevant beyond the world of academia, and being responsible to give advice to people trusting me enough to make decisions that affect their already tenuous livelihoods.




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Headlines: January, 2009; Peace Corps Guinea; Directory of Guinea RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Guinea RPCVs; Blogs - Guinea; Training





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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guinea; Blogs - Guinea; Training

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