Sunday, September 1, 2013

Can I Get A “Woot Woot” for Zorzor?

Well, it’s been a busy four days. I’m been learning all I need to know about Peace Corps policies and a few things about Liberia culture. Unfortunately, I know very little about my assignment. But here’s what I do know…
  • My site is Zorzor. 
  • I will be working at Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institution. 
  • I will help train primary teachers. 

And that’s about it. I’m not completely sure about my living situation. I don’t know if I’ll have internet or if my cell phone will get service there. I’m not sure what classes I’ll teach. I don’t know what resources I will have. I think classes start on September 16.

But the good news is that I’m going to my site tomorrow, and I’ll start finding out the answers to my questions.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mosquito Nets and Bucket Baths

After sleeping under a mosquito net and taking a bucket bath with cold water, I had no problem remembering where I was. And the cold bucket bath was an intense wake-up call.

So today was the first day of orientation. When I started in Moldova as a regular PCV, I had an intensive 10-week training. But Peace Corps Response works differently; it selects candidates that already have the training and experience for the specific job. So, in theory, a Peace Corps Response volunteer doesn’t need training. We’re just getting orientation, which gives us the basics of living in Liberia.

While all the information was relevant and important, I particularly liked how we were greeted in the morning. Our orientation leaders greeted us with a traditional Liberian greeting. They held two bowls in front of them, one containing cola nuts and the other ground hot pepper, and they offered a welcome. Then each of us took a nut and dipped it in the pepper to eat. There was also clean water on the table as drinks, which were well needed due to the spiciness of the pepper. The nut symbolized life and the water symbolized clean hearts.

The rest of the day was filled with lots of important information about living in Liberia. And I found myself constantly asking question prefaced with “In Moldova, we did…”, and then wondering how it worked here comparatively. And as I heard myself somehow bring up Moldova time and time again, I remembered often I had something to say about Moldova when I was back in the States. I’m wondering how long before that wears off…or how long before those around me are sick of hearing about Moldova.

We finished orientation around 5:15 and returned to the Lutheran guesthouse. Some of decided to check out the beach, which was just a block away from the compound. Afterwards, we went to dinner next door, where everyone traded stories about their travels.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I’ve Arrived, Safe and Sound

Well, it’s my first day in Liberia and I’m exhausted. I left Richmond yesterday on a 4pm flight for JFK, where I had a 4½ hour layover. Once we started preparing for boarding, I was able to find Kathy and Patricia, who are two other Peace Corps Response volunteer going to Liberia. We boarded the plane to start our 14-hour flight.

When we landed, the first thing I noticed when I stepped outside was the humidity. The second thing I noticed was PC there to welcome us and pick us up. And they were a welcome sight since I was bummed because I could not find one of my bags. PC seems hopeful in retrieving my bag. With a bit of luck, I’ll have it in the next couple days. If not, I guess I’ll be buying a lot more Liberian clothes than I expected.

The drive from the airport to Monrovia was eye opening. I saw monkeys tied to trees, countless muddy fields with boys playing soccer barefoot, women everywhere carrying items on their head, and vinyl chairs sitting out in the front yards. And the whole time, all I kept thinking was how excited I was to be here.

We were dropped off at the Lutheran guesthouse at which we’ll be staying for the next four days for orientation and allowed some time to drop our things off. Then we met up with the other five Peace Corps Response volunteers, some current volunteers, and a couple PC Liberia staff for dinner at a local restaurant. It was nice to share stories and get to know each other.

And when we got back to our rooms, I promptly went to bed, hoping I would get enough sleep to give me plenty energy for tomorrow.