After two days…

IMG_0169After two days of travel from Philadelphia to New York, then Brussels, and Dakar, we began the drive to Thiès, the second largest city in Senegal. A bus ride took us through streets filled with produce stands offering baskets of mangoes, papaya, cola nuts, baggies of water, and tooth sticks… women roasted peanuts over a fire as pickup trucks and mini-buses swerved through the streets, men dangling from all sides. Women in brightly-colored dresses carry large bundles on their heads; young boys use old car tires as horse saddles.

Passing walls topped with cemented broken glass, we pulled through the gates of the training center and were welcomed with drums, dancing, and eight more weeks of training…

On a humid Tuesday morning, our trainees met the director of the Peace Corps. Olsen, a woman resembling a crunchy Meryl Streep, is warm and down-to-earth. She gave a brief, yet informative talk about the struggles and victories that encompassed her service as a volunteer in 1966.

IMG_4109Fast-forward to 2018… The group of volunteers selected by Peace Corps is what you might expect: idealistic, well-intentioned, smart, goofy, and millennial (mostly). During free time they play guitars, banjos and ukuleles. Soccer balls and hacky sacks are dribbled and sacked; some sit in hammocks, do yoga, and go on group runs through the city. The more studious of the bunch are practicing their new language over some Ataya (strongly-brewed green tea with fresh mint, sometimes ginger or cloves).

Safe inside training center walls, we await our community-based training assignments…

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