Sunday, December 5, 2010

All Volunteer Conference

Thies hosted the All-Volunteer Conference Friday and Saturday at the training center. Not only did the almost two hundred PCVs from Senegal attend, but volunteers from Togo, Niger, The Gambia, Mali, and Burkina Faso came as well. It was really fun to see all of my friends and meet the volunteers from other countries. While it was a weekend full of social events, the main purpose of the conference is to share project ideas and best practices. I presented a "Working With Artisans Best Practices" presentations along with Christine, the girl who works on the basket project. The most interesting presentations were those by PCVs from other countries. There was a girl from Mali who started a cervical cancer screening project since Mali has the world's highest cervical cancer death rate. Did you know that during a pelvic exam you can use vinegar or iodine to check the cervix for pre-canerous cells? Well, you can. It was a fascinating presentation. Other good presentations were on helping promote behavior change in your community, grant writing, and working with men (since so many volunteers work with women's groups).

Since so many volunteers converged in Thies, Katherine and I thought it would be a good idea to hold a mini Artisan Expo so PCVs who might not make it to Dakar next weekend for the real thing could still make some purchases. Mme Ly brought all of her jewelry and then a couple of other volunteers brought a sampling of their artisans' goods. It turned out to be a very good idea because Mme Ly made bank and Katherine sold of of her tailor's bags and hoodies. I hope that in the future the mini Expo will turn into an awesome Expo. Randomly the PCV from Togo brought AMAZING bags that have dyed Obama faces and Peace Corps logos on them. So cool. She also had dyed Peace Corps logos on aprons. I obviously had to make some purchases and there are some new pictures up in the "Softball Season" album to prove it.

The weekend was very fun and definitely buoyed my spirits and helped past some time, which took the pressure off my minute to minute American countdown. I also got to eat good food since we went out to lunch and dinner a lot. Ceebu jenn is not my friend right now although Massa Massa definitely is! We also went to bumper cars. Yes, there are bumper cars in Thies and it's one more thing I've been able to check off my Peace Corps Senegal bucket list. Also, by the picture preceding this post you can see that a very good person brought a menorah out to the Catholic bar so we could celebrate Hannukah! My mom will be so proud. Now that All-Vol is over I leave for Dakar on Thursday for Artisan Expo and the real countdown to the motherland starts after that! I can't wait!


  1. Alyssa,

    A very cool way to celebrate Hannukah. Just believe that Ceebu Jenn are latkes. It looked like a good time with all the volunteers. See you soon.


  2. A Hanukkah you will never forget!!!! Chag Sameach Bun!!!!!!!