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Published by Brian on

This is the big week, the Peace Corps told all of the incoming volunteers where are posts are going to be stationed for the next two years. So for now, during training, I’ve been living in Porto-Novo, the capital (sort of) of Benin, and it is for the most part what you’d expect for an African city of two to three hundred thousand. When training is over in September, however, things are going to be a changing.

Starting in September I will be living and working in what I believe is a somewhat rural area in the Collines region of Benin. My village is fairly close to the border of Collines and Borgou, and Parakou is the closest city, and it is about 150 km away. There is going to be another volunteer kind of in the same area, no more than a 30 minute walk or so, so that will be nice. Otherwise it doesn’t seem like there are many other volunteers in the immediate area, but if I go up to Parakou or down to Save or Dassa there should be some others.

I will be the first volunteer that my town has ever had, and from the packet they gave me about my site, it seems to be land of contradictions. For instance, I appear to be one of the lucky ones who have electricity. Of all the TEFL volunteers, I think like 4 out of 14 live somewhere with electricity. How that I happened to become one of them I’ll never know.

On the other hand, however, my school does not appear to have walls, and I am the only volunteer that is facing the prospect of teaching in a wall-less school. The school is only a couple of years old though, and it sounds like they have a lot of ongoing construction projects right now, so that might be one reason why they put me there.

It should be a pretty interesting place to live and work in though. Collines literally means hills in French, and the region is supposed to be one of the most scenic places in the country, with rolling hills and large forests. I’ll be fairly close to some of the major crossroads, so I can get to most places in the country without having to travel more than a day.

I admittedly don’t know a whole bunch about my specific town and what life is like there yet, I suppose that will all come once I get there. The people there belong to the Mahi ethnic group, and they speak Mahi, a dialect of Fon. That is the local language that I will have to try and learn. I guess the part of the country I’ll be in is like yam central, so my diet will have to accommodate more yams than I’m used (currently I eat 0 yams), but they also have a lot of peanuts and apparently cheese, so those are all pluses.

Next week I’ll be going out to visit my site for two weeks, so I’ll have more details (and hopefully more bomba related stories) to share when I get back. The only other thing to report is that I’ve gotten to the point where I frequently lie to all the kids in the neighborhood since it is easier. For example, my name is pretty hard for just about everyone to pronounce, so now I tell all the kids that my name is Rufio. It’s easier for them, and it makes me laugh, so I call that a win win.

Categories: Benin

1 Comment

Diane and Jerry Carlsom · July 29, 2013 at 3:17 am

Brian, it must be exciting to know that training is almost over. It is good that another volunteer will bee lose by. I think having electricity is also great. Thank you for your blog. I love hearing your story. Diane

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