The smiles and laughs of children! The one on the right is Umu who, although a bit of a pain in the butt at times, was my favorite at homestay. Whenever music would play, her hips would get a little twitch and she'd just start dancing.
This is one of my other sisters, Jatu, who often came over to see what I was up to and silently observe.
Usuman! This baby always had a smile on his face and was my favorite baby because of that cute smile and sweet belly.
This is Christine, the baby at my site who is 2 months old. Isn't she precious!
My new house! The structure in front and to the right is a kitchen, but I'll do my cooking inside and use that place as storage (?).
I left two months ago today for Philadelphia, and interviewed with the Peace Corps one year ago to the day, and I'm having a hard time deciding how fast the time has gone. But it definitely feels fast! Just one year ago I was starting my senior year of college, beginning my thesis on Malick Sidibe and trying to take advantage of living with 4 of my closest friends while living in the unbeatable city of Fredericksburg. This past year has certainly brought a lot of changes!
But I digress.
Homestay is over and leaving was harder than I thought. My host family took such good care of me- going to get my teacher when I was sick and giving me consistent meals (no surprises with them, I ate bread and egg for breakfast, rice with sauce for lunch and boiled potatoes with a bouillon cube for dinner every day these past two months). We swear-in this Friday as official volunteers and I am chomping at the bit to finally settle and move-in to my very own place!
We take our language tests (for Bambara) tomorrow and I'm excited to see how my language has (officially) progressed. Hand gestures and body language speak volumes, but actual words are pretty good too so I'm interested to see how I communicate in a more formal setting where me pointing and jumping around won't really cut it. Bambara is a really cool language and I'm enjoying playing around with the new sounds and testing them out as I learn. Our language teacher (for the 4 of us in Kabe) was a sweet, older man who often wore a t-shirt that said "Souled Out for Jesus" and was always there if I needed to talk or process anything.
There's a talent show on Thursday and I have a couple ideas a brewin' for my talent. One is definite. Becky, another trainee from St. Louis who was a horticulturist before coming here (and who has a good sense of humor and was a great friend to me at homestay) and I will dress as the Kabe-kaw (Bambara for people from Kabe and kaw pronounced "cow") girls in half Western (America) half Malian outfits as we sing along to rewritten lyrics of the Dixie Chicks "Wide Open Spaces." If you're missing my singing, don't shed no tears, just get skype and I'll sing to you over the ocean. I've also selected some of my favorite excerpts from the renowned author and performer Jack Handey, but we'll see.
I'm spending nothing but time thinking about my family and friends back home - life is going great but I miss you all and hope you know it! I'll be at internet all week (until Sunday morning) and then after that, once a week.