Monday, May 3, 2010

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

We're swearing in as Peace Corps Volunteers today.

The last few weeks of training went well. Our counterparts (someone representing the community/organization we'll be working with) came up for a three-day workshop. Mine was Bastian, a WWF field agent from Vondrozo. Communication was eased by the fact that he speaks English (much better than my Malagasy), which he apparently learned by listening to American music. Guess I should start bumping more Malagasy tunes.

After the counterparts visit, we had two more weeks of language and tech training, during which we covered erosion control, improved cookstoves, select harvesting, community assessment strategies, hot boxes (reinforced baskets used for keeping food hot enough to keep cooking after you take it off the fire), and a bunch of other random bits like beekeeping and rabbit raising.

Our final language exams were last Wednesday, and I tested at the intermediate high level, which is the proficiency required for them to send me to site. I feel like intermediate low would be a more accurate characterization of where I"m at, given the fact that I still have trouble constructing complete sentences.

After the test, we moved to the PCTC for a few days. We had a big community gathering with our host families to thank them. Neny was crying when we said goodbye, and she invited me to come back whenever I'm in the area. It was tough to say goodbye; they're such good people it's absurd.

We had some final sessions at the PCTC, and then a day and a half to repack our bags and relax a bit on Lake Mantasoa. We went biking and canoeing, got caught in toreential downpours, and lazed around.

Yesterday morning we left Mantasoa and came down to Tana. I"m about to run to the PC office to get my dress clothes so I can look presentable at swearing in. We'll be at the American Ambassador's Residence, which apparently has a swimming pool. Canonballllllll.

Tomorrow I'll be saying goodbye to the other volunteers and heading off on my installation trip down to Vondrozo. It's about to be a monumental life shift. Again.

All right, time's short, so I'm off, but I'm about three hours away from finally being a PCV. Crazy.

Hope you're all well, and will write again soon.

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