Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trent goes to the fair...

So when we last left Trent, he was in Kaya getting ready to go into Ouaga for a VAC (Volunteer Action Commitee) meeting, warden training, and the 50th Anniversery Fair in Ouaga... Let us continue our adventure..

So I arrive in Ouaga and I get put to work. Everyone has stuff to be doing, because the Fair is coming to Ouaga. A fair that Peace Corps is putting on. We have a VAC meeting where I get to sit in and listen to the people who make the country run, then work with other people to get stuff ready for the fair. On wednesday, I go to the CD's (Country Director) house and go through Warden Training. I am the back up warden to Kaya. If stuff blows up this year, I will be ready to fulfill my duties again.

So now it is the day of the fair. We load up our stuff at 6 in the morning and we go to the Maison du peuple. As we are driving... the wind starts to pick up... the sky gets dark... and it starts to rain.

The bus pulls up to the maison du peuple and there are a bunch of fallen tents. There were already some people there and apparently when the wind picked up, it started to send the Tents flying through the air and volunteers were literally holding and being dragged by these huge tents. Eventually people were being dragged to much, so people ran for cover and away from the flying metal and tarp death traps.

By the time we arrived, the wind had died down a bit. (I forgot to mention that all of us are in our best dress because we are going to a swear in ceremony. The press and everything.) I take off my shirt and use a wife beater and my dress pants and all of us go out and try to fix tents... in the rain. Everyone is pitching in and doing something. We have to move tents that are broken and put other tents back together and try to avoid spots where the rain has gathered. At one point, I was moving a tent tarp and a metal bar swung past me and almost took out another volunteer. We all decided that it was the closest thing to Hurricane relief that we were going to get to in Burkina Faso.

After we get alot of that stuff done, most of the volunteers are filthy and wet, but we might be on Burkina television... so we have a grab box at the Transit house and the New swearing in volunteers brought some of thier own personal clothes and everyone just threw on the best that they could. We actually got some pretty amazing results. Everyone looked nice and the sun came out and the rain stopped. So everyone after swear in, got to put thier booths up and everything went along pretty much as planned.

The fair was alot of fun. I worked the PSDN relaxation station and carnival. I worked the Dunk Tank and the Burkinabe loved it. It was the first time that they had ever seen a dunk tank and they loved to dunk the person. It helped that people could taunt them in Moore, French, or English. It was alot of fun. We had tons of good food, good music, and good Artisanal stuff for sale. Watch some of the video that I will be linking for more info...

So day three rolls around and everything starts happening. Christy Ross teaches a dance group who was dancing all three days. They were really good and reminded me of an amateur showchoir group. There was 2 girls and one boy. Well one of the girls did a solo and it was Single Ladies by Beyonce... Well I know a little bit of the dance. Another guy here knows the whole dance and is a dancer. They said that we should do it with her. I agree, but the other guy's back hurts. So the Christy (who choregraphed the dances) said that she would do it. I instantly hated my decision to do this. I am trying to practice and learn the version of the dance that they know and literally get about an hour and a half to get this whole dance down. We (Thank God) did not do the whole song, but it was still alot to learn fairly quickly.

It becomes time to perform and I did ok. It wasn't great, but the audience loved it and even the CD said that it was awesome. So I win.

After that it was time to get ready for the wife of the president. She was coming to our closing ceremony for the fair. We had Floby (One of the biggest pop stars in Burkina) write a song for us about Peace Corps that was awesome and he sung it at the closing ceremony.

We went through the speeches and the ceremony ended. Afterwards there was a reception and I got to talk to the wife of the president. We mostly talked about food in Kaya. I have now talked to the wife of the president and shaken her hand 2. I am very important in Burkina Faso. lol.

We had an all volunteer meeting today that I stayed for, but I am looking forward to going back to Kaya tomorrow. I have to start getting things ready for school... oh and I found out the Embassy is coming to Kaya on the 5th of October and wants to see a project that I have done... I haven't really done any tangible products. This should be interesting.

Wish me luck,

Sorry this is a later update... you can go to and people will be putting up more videos. Also you can find out more info about Burkina Peace corps. Videos on the front page. Thanks!!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Trent goes to meetings... then a few more.

So after I posted my last blog, I was supposed to be at my site until Friday of that week. That did not happen. I got dragged into Ouaga early. There are worse things that can happen to you, but it was a slight inconvience. So I get a call and am told that we need to come in on Tuesday because we are filming a tv spot for the fair and they need volunteers. I do not really want to come in; but they have also moved my PSDN meeting so that all of us can be on the show. So I go into Ouaga. some people choose to come in Weds morning; but I had a few things that I wanted to get done at the bureau, so I went in on Tuesday. Weds morning arrives and they tell us that they might not need all of us; but to stay pretty just in case. So we wait around for 3 hours only to be told that they dont need us. They only used 7 people. So I had another day free in ouaga to spend money that I need not to spend.

So Thursday was our PSDN meeting and I would talk about what happened but it is confidential. Sorry! But we are starting some cool new iniatives and trying to get them bureau approved. It was a really good meeting. Afterwards we had a ¨family dinner¨ PSDN seems to eat together after all our meetings. So we call them family dinners. where we had chili and cornbread. It was like americaland. It was delicious and had tons of veggies even.

After that I go to the bureau on friday morning to get some information about something and I get stopped by one of the secretaries and asked if I will fold some papers for her for the fair.I tell her of course and spend the next hour doing tri folds. It reminded me of when I was at the bank folding loan paperwork to be mailed. After that I hopped a bus back to kaya. I arrived in the afternoon and Emma asked me to go shopping with her. I like to haggle and she likes to have a shopping buddy; so it works out well. I got done and went home and relaxed. The next day was a mixture of me cleaning my house and watching movies. Bridesmaids is really funny for those of you who haven't seen it.

The bike tour came to Kaya yesterday. They arrived around noonish and we took them to eat at trois luit. It was nice. Afterwrds, I took half the group back to my house and relaxed. I made them American mac and cheese and Taco meat. They were ecstatic. We started to watch bridesmaids but they all wanted to sleep. we went to sleep at 9pm. That is very early for me; but they got me up at 4:30. So it evened out. I will probably take a nap today. I still have tons of work to do. I have to get ready for school!! It starts in October! Also I will be in Ouaga from 18th to the 25th for a VAC meeting, warden training, and the fair. I have to organize a booth for PSDN. I did not think I would ever be this busy in country, I kinda like this unexpected surprise.

Love and Peace

P.s; I really need to work on my coke habit here. Stupid liquid crack...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trent masters the existential crisis … and is also back in Burkina.

Who am I? Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Why do I ask so many questions? The existential crisis is not for everyone. When even thinking about having an existential crisis, you need to make sure you are ready to deal with it. You can’t ask the big questions and expect everything to stay the same. You have to realize you may ask the questions and find your life to be quite pathetic or lacking something. The opposite could also happen as well and you could find that not only are you living a happy and fulfilled life, but you are on the right track for your future. To those people, I would like to say, “Screw you.”

So I, again, am having to ask myself the big questions in life. What do I want to do after Peace Corps? Where do I want to go after Peace Corps? What should I do in my last year of Peace Corps? Who are my real friends in country and who do I just put up with because they are here. After my trip to America, these questions seemed even more blurry. I did realize that grad school is not in my future. I do not have the drive (or the cash) to make myself go through more years of school. I am young though and maybe in a few years I will decide that I can really choose something and stick with it. I won’t hold my breath.

So let me talk about what I have been doing since I have been back in country, because that is why you actually read this blog, not to here me blather on about existential crisis’s.

So first off I want to say that I had a wonderful time in Americaland. I got to eat tons of food, I gained 10lbs, I went to a family reunion, I helped move my brother in with his girlfriend, I helped one of my best friends move in with her boyfriend (who happens to be my brother also), I went to a water park, I got to spend time with my friends and family and see some people who had already left Burkina. It was great and it was much needed. I will say that I was ready to go back to Burkina, though. I have a year left and I have a lot of stuff to do in this year. I am at my halfway mark!!! Although, really, I am hoping to be mostly finished with the really important stuff by the end of May. I have another school year, a vacation to Ghana, and a visitor from America to look forward to. It is going to be great and I have already started. Let me just start from when I get back to Burkina.

I get back from Burkina at about 430pm and hail a taxi to take me to the transit house. I arrive and find out my neighbor in Barsalgo is at the Transit house and I get to say goodbye to him. So that was great. I also got to see a couple of other volunteers who I really liked and was able to say goodbye to them. It is weird to think that in another 2 weeks, I will have been in country longer than anyone (minus crazy third years and even crazier fourth years). So that night, I went out to Verdoyant and ate great food with Evan, Leslie, Shannon, and Evan. It was Evan's last night in country and the first time that he had ever eaten at Verdoyant. We went back to the transit house and afterwards we had some goodbye drinks with Ouaga Rob, Duckworth, Shannon, and Evan. It was a good time.

So the next morning I get up and get my stuff ready and I go to Kaya. I take a bus back and get back at 3 and drop my stuff off at my house and go straight to the training location for Camp G2low.

Camp G2low is a Girls and Guys leading our world. It is a training camp in everything (Sexual Health, Nutrition, Drugs and Alcohol, Family Planning, Equality for Women). It covers lots of subjects in 1 week. The first week in our camp is a boy’s week and the second week is a girl’s week. There is another camp happening in the southwest of the country that covers the same information.

So I arrive and training is already going on and everyone is getting their stuff prepared. The training went pretty well, but the highlight was the session with Shannon (Country Director) and Alexis (Bureau worker) who gave a session on sexual violence. It covers the spectrum of what sexual violence is and describes what violence feels like.

It is a great session. I have seen Shannon do the session 3 times and each time something new is brought up, especially with working with host Country nationals. After two days of training is time to get ready for the campers to arrive. They arrived on Sunday morning/afternoon and we had a grand welcome ceremony for them. Madame Governour, the APE, my Provisieur, and many others were in attendance. It was a great ceremony with music, speeches, and cokes. I took tons of pictures (yes, I have camera number 3 and yes it is already broken, but I will get into that later.)

I am not going to go deeply into the two weeks of camp. The wrap up of the camp was that we trained over 50 boys and over 50 girls on tons of subjects that they would have never been able to receive information on before. The kids were really excited and were excited to be learning about all the subjects. Most of the kids here had no idea how their sexual organs actually worked or even knew what puberty was. The camp was amazing with guest speakers and was very inspirational. I feel like when I leave this country, I know that I have touched the lives of these kids and made their lives better… but I will not be doing the camp next year.

I am not going into why I am not going to do the camp if it happens next year, if you absolutely have to know. Send me an email. I believe if you don’t have anything nice to say… come talk to me. Just kidding! I just don’t want to broadcast my feelings about it on the internet.

So after the camp I go to MSC. I was so happy to see my friends in Secondary Education. It was great to see what everyone was up to and how people were doing. We, unfortunately, had to sit through a bunch of boring sessions, but that was only one days worth. We had a feedback session about how things were going and Secondary Education felt that things were mostly positive. We had an IT only meeting on the morning of Ramadan and it was amazing how many ideas and things that we came up with. We are all going to try to get our program sharing down to a system and exchanged some software that will make all of our lives easier. I am hoping to try some out this year.

I had some medical sessions and went and saw the dentist. It was a better dentist than I have ever been to in the states. I got my teeth cleaned with this hook thing that shot water and then right before they were done they gave my teeth a salt scrub thing. It was wicked weird. I got x-rays afterwards with the dentist and I have no cavities. Yay for me.

I got up for the physical exam the morning after the dentist and everything went well there. It turns out I have low blood pressure though. He asked me if I was feeling dizzy or anything and I told him I wasn’t. My blood pressure was 100/50. I don’t really know how good or bad that is, but he seemed to think it was fine. It must be my wonderful diet and exercise… yeah.

So right now I am back at site and am writing this lovely article from the comfort of my own bed. But I am going to wrap it up, because I have a laundry lady coming at 7 in the morning to do my laundry. “le sigh”

Tomorrow’s mission is to clean house, update blog post, and buy meat for dinner. I think I should be able to get all this done easily. We shall see.

Thanks if you’re still reading, you’re the best.