In the words of the principal at my summer school, "All things must come to an end." Coincidentally, this past week happens to be the beginning of many endings.
Summer school has come and gone. It was a wonderful experience and introduction to what I will be spending the next two years doing. I hope my students learned as much as I did! We had finals on the second to last day, so on the last we could play games and have fun. My students taught me a game, "Touch," which despite the simplicity of the name actually requires a good bit of strategy. We also got together ONE GIANT game of.. yep, you guessed it - Red Rover!! It was great to put the books aside and have some fun with the kids (I'll be sure to have this philosophy during the school year as well). My dream is to be THAT cool teacher. Time will tell my friends!... Or I can just tell you all that I am that cool teacher and you'll just have to take my word for it. Mwuhaha! : ) We also had an awards ceremony to give the top 3 students certificates and textbook prizes in each class. It was a really great way to show our appreciation for our students' effort and cooperation while we (sometimes) struggled to figure out how to be a teacher.
With the ending of summer school also came the ending of week 9 of pre-service training, which is both exciting and nerve raking. This past weekend we took a trip to Freetown. It's this magical place where you can find everything you can possibly want in life... or so we've been told for the last 2 months. I would ask, "Where can we find good American/Americanized food?" Response: "Freetown." I would ask, "Where can you buy a Biology textbook in this country?" Response: "Freetown." Literally, anything that we would ask about during training, "Freetown" was always the response. So needless to say, we were pretty stoked to be going to the foreigners' heaven of Salone.
We arrived on Saturday and received a tour of the many lorry parks where we will be getting transportation out of Freetown when we come to visit. We then received a tour of the Peace Corps office compound. All the buildings were really nice on top of this hill overlooking the city and the ocean. YES, the Atlantic Ocean -- I waved to all of you on the other side! We then headed to our country directors' apartment for some delicious dinner and mingling time. After the meal, I almost had a heart attack when a tray of brownies started floating around. Just imagine vultures on a dead antelope, where there are dozens of vultures and one small carcass. The same image can be said for the SL Peace Corps trainees and these ohhh soo gooooood chocolatey brownies. OK, I need to change topics.
Sunday, I headed to the beach with some of my padi dem (friends). I enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of the nearly empty beach. I then headed into town with one of my friends, Amy, to hunt down a gas stove. Unfortunately, all the stores with stoves were closed, but we wandered around just for the fun of it. Getting around a big city in a foreign country without a clue to where we were going/doing was surprising pretty easy! Well, let me clarify, it was easy because we were assisted by fellow Sierra Leoneans who would approach us when our faces were scrunched up in confusion. People were so friendly not only giving us directions to places, but would walk with us the entire way somewhere and would pay for our poda-poda rides. Now that's hospitality I can get used to!
We managed to get a mini-van ride on the way back to Makeni. 11 people snug in the van made for an interesting 4 hour ride. We shared stories, sipped on some gin that we bought on the side of the road, and laughed about how ridiculous it was that an African woman was pretty much sitting on Drew's lap. Ohhh such is Africa! As our director of programming and training said in the beginning of training, "Some of your best times and some of your worst times during your service will be with transportation." So true.
This week is our last week of training, ah! Not going to freak. Not going to freak out. Not going to freak out. It's hard to believe that I will be all by my lonesome in my village at this time next week. I will be desperately trying to make friends, figuring out how to cook in this country, and preparing for teaching (wish me luck!). It's a little overwhelming to think I will be losing the crutch of my companions, but also exciting that I will becoming a volunteer, meeting some of what I'm sure will be wonderful people, and living out the mission of the Peace Corps.
I swear in on Friday (KaitB's birthday-yay!) then all of the trainees are going to have ONE HUGE celebration. One, because we'll officially be volunteers and two, because we won't have a curfew. Time to go cRaZy!
I don't have internet in my village and I'm not sure where the closest internet cafe is, so this might be my last post for a while. :( Don't cry though and have no fear, because I still have paper and pen... and will have A LOT of downtime. So you peeps better be checking your mailboxes and sending me some of the PA gossip train! Well, that's all she wrote.
"Big gulps, eh? Welp, see ya later!" - Dumb and Dumber
Just kidding! I have a quote that's a tiny bit more profound than that - not by much...
"I can do no great things in life, only small things with great love." - Mother Theresa