Heather in Senegal

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monday morning Mom drove me to the New Rochelle train station, and after much talking, laughing, and hugging, I got on the train and cried as it pulled away. About twenty minutes later I realized the anxiety and nausea were gone at last.
The two days of staging were pretty fun. There are 36 people in my staging group. Most of them will be health volunteers, a handful will do environmental education, and the remaining seven, of which I'm a part, shall do agriculture. Peace Corps is putting us up in a nice hotel. I'm trying to relish the pleasures of running water, electricity, and porcelain toilets. To being the staging we were each given a paper listing activities like studying with a Shaolin master, doing an independent study in Bosnia, and knowing how to can pickles. Our first assignment was to find out who among our group did each of these things. A good way for us to have instant respect for one another, I think. My item on the list? "Volunteered with cats in Humane Societies across the USA." An apt representation of my values.
I'm worried about my diet. I'll eat what I must, and hopefully it will taste good, but I dislike the fact that much of what I eat will contain fish.
Chuck, who volunteered in Tunisia in the 70's, led the staging. He began by asking us a slew of trivia questions about the Peace Corps. He was really cheerful and enthusiastic. I think he delights in welcoming us into the adventure. He talked to us about safety, expectations, fears, precautions we can take, and the like. He related stories from his time in Tunisia. Some were inspiring, like the one about him tutoring a boy and quickly bringing him from an illiterate to a 4th grade reading level. Some were daunting, like the number of times he has had malaria. Surely the vaccinations were weaker then. I hope. Mostly staging consisted of the volunteers being broken into small groups for discussion, drawing activities, making a skit, playing word games, etc. Very little was spoken specifically concerning Senegal. Rather, general ideas were discussed and, equally important, we got to talk and play with one another. I'm so glad that when I land in Senegal I will be with familiar faces rather than strangers.


At 10:34 AM, Blogger Cousin Carole said...

Hi Heather,
I'm so glad your staging went well and you're getting to know the others in your group.
How many vaccinations were you given? I enjoy reading about your "adventures" and look forward to more. Thanks for sharing. And from another librarian in your family, hope you stay SHH!! Love, Cousin Carole

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Mom said...

Dearest Heather,
I, too, cried as the train pulled you away from home. Knowing that you're enjoying what you're doing and the people you're with eases my missing you.
It's interesting reading about your staging events, and I look forward to reading about your adventures in Senegal.
Stay SHH!
All my love,
Mom (:-)

At 7:11 PM, Blogger sid and roberta said...

Dear Heather,
We hope this message takes. We are very proud of you and hope this experience will be everything you want it to be.
We will be following your blog and look forward to keeping up with your activities.
Uncle Sid and Aunt Roberta

At 2:08 PM, Blogger SucoSuco said...

You really write well. Guess it's genetic!

While I loved reading your postings, it makes me nervous that there isn't one more recent than March 14. Guess you'll just have to blog more often.

There's a Contemporary African Photography exhibit at the International Center of Photography in New York City that includes work by photographers from Senegal. The exhibit is supposed to "demonstrate how artists can use photography as a tool to trace the arc of different social realities." Reviews have been quite good -- but it's only up for three weeks and we only have 10 more days to see it.

It was great seeing so much of you before you left, but now we miss you more!

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Uncle Bob said...

Keep those blogs coming; we enjoyed reading them. You write quite well. (Don't forget to thank your genes before going to bed.)

Glad to hear you like your traveling companions. They sound like a good group to be with.

Love, Uncle Bob


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