Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Official

I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer, not just a trainee anymore. I would consider it a pretty big accomplishment and we had a lovely ceremony in Dakar at the American Ambassador's house to swear in.

The end of PST marks a huge milestone of my service; mainly that I'm on my own now. I recently got an email from a friend about how she's moving out of her parents' house and really being her on her own. First of all: go you. Second of all I'm actually, finally getting out on my own too. It's kind of weird. A lot of my friends have their own appartments, pay their own bills, and live on their own. For the last 2 months I've been in pre-school. Literally. I learned how to bathe myself, feed myself (ok, not really my mom still threw my way at the thank you party yesterday, speak Wolof at the level of a three year old child, and conduct myself in a new society. I'm definitely not fully functioning, but I'm sure the epic failures that are sure to come will be highly entertaining and I'm excited to have some freedom and be out on my own.

The Swearing-In ceremony was a little anti-climactic, but nice all the same. We got up super early to get to Dakar on time and then waited for the ceremony to start for 1.5 hours. Usual. Everyone's remarks were really nice and I was impressed with all of my fellow PCVs who gave speaches in Senegalese local languages. The overall mood was definitely festive, but I could tell that at least my friends were a little apprehensive about what's to come. Not only that, we were also the center of attention because we were some of the only girls completely decked out in traditional Senegalese formal wear plus headwraps. The icing on the cake? We were all wearing jewel tones. I swear we didn't plan it.

After the ceremony we had a reception in the backyard of the Ambassador's house. It was obvious we new volunteers have not yet completely adapted to the Senegalese style of acquiring sustainance. It was a buffet/ snack style set up with food out on tables. While Americans form lines and respective individual space and the right of everyone to enjoy food, the Senegalese descend upon food like a swarm of bees and feast until there is nothing left. It's literally every man for himself and you better be ready to throw some elbows if you want a delicious slider or some guacamole. Lesson learned. Lesson learned.

At the PC office we signed some more forms and then were whisked away for a few hours of sun, fun, and ice cream at the American Club. Pretty much a delipatated country club in Dakar that rich people go to and that we can get into for free as PC volunteers. It was pretty nice and I thoroughly enjoyed my ice cream.

Back in Thies, after it took us 3 hours to travel the 65k from Dakar to Thies, don't worry I had my iPod and completely passed out on the bus, we discovered that the kitchen staff was no where to be found and therefore we had to find dinner in town. In a race to beat the coming dusk we sprinted into town only to have teenage girls through rocks at us. Welcome to Senegal new Peace Corps Volunteers. Great. It was suprising that even in Thies toubabs got that reaction, but hopefully I wont encounter such hostility during my service.

Now, I'm back from the speak easy around the corner. Yes, it's a covert Catholic family selling us warm Gazelle (Senegalese beer)and they close the doors behind us! Dancing on a rooftop, under the stars, to an iPod connected to some pretty terrible speakers is the only way I would have wanted to spend tonight; my first night as a full fledged volunteer. I already feel like I've been in Senegal for forever, but at the same time not long at all. It's strange. To many more nights under the African sky...

And Picassa has finally agreed to load all of my pictures and video. They are awesome so make sure to look at them. One video is 4.5 minutes long, but is totally worth that wasted time at work so watch it!

Also, before I forget... I would like to thank everyone who made this day possible:

1. My parents for sending me lovely carepackages and not hanging up when I call at 5am having a break down
2. My lovely boyfriend for never losing his patience as I continually lost my mind during the last 2 months
3. Everyone who sent me letters and packages
4. And last but not least everyone who reads my blog. I hope it's at least a little entertaining and maybe even informative. You guys rock.


Ps. I love ceiling fans.


  1. Hello Alyssa Titche PCV,
    I feel like those initials are equivalent to a PhD based on the amount of sweat and and cultural immersion you have dealt with.
    Well done!
    I would love to hear more about that speakeasy. Is there a peephole in the door and a password?
    It reminds me of those toney, faux, secret clubs in Manhattan. They have no signage and you have to know somebody to get in. You were at the real thing!
    What an incredible, amazing adventure you are on. Thank you for sharing it so well on this blog!

  2. Alyssa,

    Congratulations on making the grade and dropping the trainee status. You have done great things already and now you can move forward and do more. Have a great time and keep up the great work.

  3. MS PCV,

    Well, Mazel Tov to you. I'm so gald that stuck it out and have made the grade. I'm sure you feel proud of yourself, and rightfully too.

    You are right, the photos of the final party and ceremony/reception are great. How fun for you.

    I know you'll have a ball being on your own. And doing your job will be tough at first, but you will master it!! You have the skills and creativity to do great things for the people of Senegal. Go work your magic!!

    BTW: I'm totally enjoying your blog. I'm so glad you keep it.

  4. Hey Alyssa. I've been reading your blog off and on and finally took a couple of hours this morning to get totally caught up. What an absolutely amazing adventure you are on! Your confidence, perseverance and world view are now changed forever in a way that most of us can only marvel at. Congratulations on your rebirth as a citizen of the world. You could come home tomorrow and still have attained more than most people could imagine. Your blog is a vicarious bonanza of third world immersion - thank you! Mary Kenyon