Almost a pcv...

Trip Start Nov 02, 2003
Trip End Feb 14, 2006

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Flag of Madagascar  ,
Thursday, January 8, 2004

hi again, friends and loved ones. i*m back in the capital for a simultaneously boring and exhausting couple of days = a tour of the peace corps office and review of administrative and safety policies today and (potentially more interesting) a tour of a huge international non=profit*s office tomorrow. they produce all the water=purifying chemical and condoms in the country and word is that we*ll get free t=shirts promoting these products! *yes!!*

anyway, training is essentially over, which is both relieving and terrifying; as great as most of the training staff and my host family are, there are drawbacks to training too: 8 hours of language class a day (with bean=shelling and washing clothes in the river the *downtime* activities when we*re not in class), not being able to cook or care for myself (when i want to shower, i have to ask my parents to build the fire to heat the water since they don*t trust me to do it, which is a huge pain; also, when i ask my mom or dad, whoever*s cooking, what*s for lunch/dinner, they say *rice!* i ask what besides rice and they say *side dishes!* i ask what side dishes, and they finally tell me (but the answer*s usually beans, since we grow tons of them, hence my job as bean=sheller.) it*s a far cry from the independence of cooking for myself or even going to the dining hall; which we pcvs now fondly reminisce about!)

on the other hand, training is so safe and easy; i don*t really have to interact with malagasy in my community besides my host family, with whom i*m very comfortable; i have constant company, both malagasy and american, so while i*m a little homesick, i*m not lonely; i*m surrounded by malagasy fluent in english who can answer all of my language and cultural questions; and my neighbors are another trainee i adore and a pizza restaurant, where the trainees in my village eat at least once a week. that*s a far cry from how things will be at site, where loneliness will be the norm for at least a while; my site partner is great, but she*s an english teacher and will be busy every weekday and night (preparing lesson plans), so that*s an awful lot of malagasy=only time. hence most of the terror.

but generally i*m excited and upbeat about finishing training and going to site. my final language test, a 30=minute presentation about sanitation presented to the community, went pretty well; i got my point across and only a few people fell asleep. (what, you want me to talk for 30 minutes about latrines in this foreign language and make it *interesting*, too???) the details of our swearing=in ceremony are still a mystery, except that both our host families and the national media will be there, including, allegedly, tv reporters who will ask us on=camera questions in structures we haven*t studied yet. fun fun fun.

so happy new year, everyone, and i love and miss you!!!

love, jess

ps = sorry about the confusing order of the entries = some i*m posting myself and some are posted as the letters they*re quoted from are received by friends and family; just check the dates if you*re confused about chronology and look for new entries when you log on!

And now, some legalese:
The opinions expressed and experiences described in this travelogue are those of one individual Peace Corps Volunteer. Nothing written here should be interpreted as official or unofficial Peace Corps literature or as sanctioned by the Peace Corps. I have chosen to write about my experience online in order to update family and friends; I am earning no money whatsoever from this endeavor.
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