It’s now the 2,011th year and I’ve finished my third month in village. November’s sludge of adjustment burned off to December’s ease and days flowed more swiftly as I continue to determine my role in this village. The ups ands downs were more manageable this set of four weeks and, on occasion, normalcy was present.
I laughed and cooked more. I started actual work projects and planned for future ones. Although my writing was more of a mess this month, my running was the easiest it’s ever been (the other day, I ran to another village!). I spent more time sitting with neighbor and friends than walking around our tiny community. I’m still the outsider – the only Christian and white — but some days it appears if I hopped the fence and am just another member of the village.
My emotions were calmer this month despite deep, but small, bouts of homesickness around the holiday. Christmas came and went without much significance, although I tried to teach my villagers about the holiday and traditions as part of an English Club lesson. They told me I need to give them a gift, but I turned it back to them saying it was my holiday and they were to do the gift giving. This caused either ruptures of laughter or blank stares.
But as I’ve learned, you never have to celebrate a holiday on the actual day, a week later is sometimes just as good. When I arrived in Zinder on Thursday, there were SIX packages waiting for me. Six. I paid $20 to pick up those packages but they made me feel very loved as I opened each and ohed and awed at the goodies. It didn’t feel like Christmas, it was Christmas.
January marks the end of my integration period and nine days into the new year I will return to the west side of the country for a month-long in-service training. It’ll be nice to see my stagmates again and be in the comforts of site-prepared meals and pause snacks as well as Niamey’s decent selection of restaurants. Truthfully, I am a tad nervous for IST. I’m afraid that I’ll play the whose-done-what-game that I often fall into the habit of doing and, because my stagmates are incredibly talented people, I’ll feel my early service contributions were lackluster or, as per usual, I’ll deem myself a failure.
In the exciting news department, a group of new volunteers were sworn-in on Dec. 30 and will be making their way to sites this week. Congratulations to the newbies; we are so excited to have you!
Team Zinder is getting 10 new volunteers today, which is almost double of what we currently have, and two are coming to my sector. There’ll be a volunteer posted in a similar village to mine but smaller about halfway between Sean and I. We are excited another person will be able to commiserate about our six-hour bush taxi ride to Zinder.
We plan to welcome the new kids in the most appropriate Team Zinder way — with a big, scrumptious meal. If they are going to be a part of our team, then they have to realize that they will eat well during monthly meetings.
And since we are on the topic of food, I really must brag that I made bagels from scratch the other day. Yeah, they were awesome. It’s nice to have the time to experiment with cooking and even better when 11 other people are willing to poison test.
I’ll be working on posting my entries from November (remember I left my journal in village last month) and December over the next few days. I’ll also have more Internet access this month since I’ll be in Niamey on regular basis and hope to have a few fresher posts for you all.
For now, au revoir.