Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, October 18

End of Training Celebration

After leaving Mboro for the last time as a trainee, we began the formal end of training celebrations. For starters, we each invited one member from our training families to Thies for a lunch party. My host mom came, although it was a tossup between her and Marie Terese. Lunch was chicken in rice bowls with pickled veggies. The car from Mboro was late so I didn't actually get to eat with my family.

During a mass production of Senegalese tea, the PC brought in musicians for entertainment. There were 2 different drum circles that traded off. The beats were mesmerizing and moved quite a few people to dance. When the circle members danced it was Narr dancing from Mauritania and reflected Middle Eastern themes. The guests shared African dance moves; Americans attempted to join.

Later there were speeches and an awards ceremony. Seeing the pride on each family member's face felt more like a graduation ceremony than the one that followed the next day. My mom and I held hands, kissed, and danced together often.

The next morning, we got up early to don traditional cloths (me in my blue pregnant looking number) loaded on to two air conditioned buses and, with additional land cruisers and a police escort, drove straight through traffic to Dakar. We stopped at the house of the US Ambassador to Senegal (whose house is labeled as Embassy territory) where we piled into a grand living room for the swearing in ceremony.

Representatives from NGOs, and similar PC organizations from other countries gathered to celebrate. The actual ceremony seemed short at 1.5 hours. There were speeches in 5 languages: French, English, Wolof, Pulaar, & Mandinka. We abruptly took an oath that I can barely remember the words to... except "protecting... against all enemies, foreign and domestic," which I feel is something that was previous undisclosed. Protect how? By talking peace into them?

Anyway, after giving my life to my country via oath, and receiving what should barely pass as a certificate from various Senegalese governmental branches we enjoyed drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the garden. Following this the new volunteers were shipped to the American Club (actually Atlantic Club, but affectionately and informally renamed for its similarity to the US with all the ex-pats that float around). Drinks were shared before a long bus ride (without an escort, but with traffic) back to Thies.

Back in Thies, we quickly realized the center was done feeding us... and headed out to dinner on the town. After an extensively long power nap (oops) I barely made it back up in time for the middle of the celebration party organized by my training class at the Catholic compound nearby (aka Beer Garden). The party offered mixers, balloons, glow-sticks, fireworks, cookies & peanuts, candles & music... a good time was had by all.

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