I’m just gonna go one by one with all of the questions that have been asked of my service so far:
I left Glendora last Tuesday and flew back to my apartment in Montgomery, AL. I will be here until June 2nd, when my parents and Daniel will see me off from the Montgomery airport so I can fly to “Staging.” Staging takes place in Phillie. I get a day of meeting my fellow volunteers and some brief group sessions.
June 2nd is the big day for me because it’s the day I say goodbye to my parents, Daniel, and everything I am familiar with. It’s the day the adventure begins.
On June 4th we all leave Phillie together to fly out of JFK (we get roughly seven hours in JFK; don’t think I’m not gonna try to run around Times Square one last time).
We have a connection in Paris before landing in the capital city of Mali, called Bamako.
I will not be living in Bamako, but my first three months of service will take place near there. There’s very, very little I know right now about where I’ll be living after training. During training I’ll find out my specific site location.
My three months of training will include cultural, technical, and safety stuff. It’ll cover all the specifics that I am currently unable to answer. During training I’ll also learn the local language, which is Bambara. The secondary language is French (I still remember a good bit from Madame Charles), and I expect to use my English very, very little.
I will be working as a health volunteer, specifically dealing with water sanitation. My title is “WASH Extension Agent.” WASH = Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.
No, I don’t know anything about water sanitation. Luckily, it seems that many Malians do not either, so we’ll all be learning together.
Mali is a Muslim country, but I do not need to wear a hijab (headwrap worn by Muslim women), since I am not Muslim. I will have ample opportunity to wear traditional Malian clothing, and don’t think I won’t take advantage of that.
I’m told I will be eating millet for the rest of my life, which has been described to me and one step less fun than rice. There are other things floating around in the Malian diet, but it’s not very well-balanced. Please send me spices and Sriracha.
I won’t have electricity or running water, but I will be able to catch a WiFi signal. I still haven’t hopped on the smart phone bandwagon, so I’m not sure yet how I’ll figure out that one. My plan for this, as with pretty much every other thing I’m unsure about, is to just figure it out when I get there.
I will be living in a mud hut by myself. I get to sleep under a mosquito net, which I am already pretending is a princess canopy. I get to ride a bike everywhere (and it’s actually illegal for me to operate a motor vehicle, anyway).
My service will last for the duration of 3 months of training followed by 2 years of direct service for a total of 27 months of service. The Peace Corps does allow time off to come home, but they do not pay for the plane ticket for me to visit.
I already know my mailing address and I’m already beginning to beg people for things to send me. I’ll post the address shortly before departure.
Also, I’m told Malians are super duper hospitable towards Peace Corps volunteers.
Did I miss anything?